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Inquest GP's 'daily game'

Controversial EU regulations that would allow doctors from across Europe to practise in the UK but remain governed by their home country's laws have been shelved.

The proposals would have enabled European doctors to carry out procedures that are illegal in the UK, such as assisted suicide and late abortions, while working here on a temporary basis.

But after intense lobbying by the GMC, RCGP and the BMA, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has promised to look again at the planned rules.

The BMA had warned the plans ­ part of the EU's Directive on Service in the Internal Market ­ were a 'serious threat to patient safeguards'.

Edwin Borman, BMA international committee chair, said the decision to reconsider the 'country of origin principle' in the directive was 'unprecedented'.

But he warned there was still a chance the regulations could be pushed through.

He said: 'This is not the end of the directive. It has not been withdrawn but it is welcome that our concerns have been listened to and it is being looked at again. For Barroso to do this was unprecedented and shows the strength of feeling over this directive.'

If the commission decides to plough on with the plans, which were due to come into force next year, it would seriously undermine the powers of the GMC and other health care regulators.

A GMC spokeswoman said the council would continue lobbying the EU to ensure the principle was scrapped.

She said: 'We will be watching these developments and contributing our view where appropriate, ensuring patient protection is the key interest.'

Dr Mayur Lakhani, RCGP chair, said patient safety had to take precedence over free movement of doctors around the EU.

By Joe Lepper

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