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GMC calls for urgent checks on EU doctors to address ‘gaps’ in regulation

By Ian Quinn

The GMC has made an official call for a major crackdown on the standards of GP training across Europe as it ramps up pressure for improved patient safety.

The body has called for all 27 EU member states to bring in urgent checks on national medical qualifications to prevent migrant foreign doctors working outside their own country in health systems they may not be familiar with.

It comes amid increasing frustration that European employment law continues to have a loophole which could see a repeat of the Ubani case – where a German doctor who gave a lethal dose of diamorphine to a 70-year-old patient David Gray in 2008 during his first shift as a locum GP at an out-of-hours service in Cambridgeshire.

Dr Ubani is not now able to practise in England, but is still able to practise in Germany. Before he began practising in the UK, the GMC had been unable to check whether he had ever worked as a GP in Germany as his qualifications meant he was able to register in the UK.

The call was made in a response to the European Commission review of laws governing recognition of different systems, as the GMC warned it ‘cannot have full confidence’ in the standards of medical training and education in other EU member states.

The GMC response, published this month, said recent events in the UK had highlighted ‘regulatory gaps’ in current procedures that prompted the GMC to act, as they ‘have the potential to harm patients and undermine confidence in both the single market in general and healthcare in particular.’

‘There is a lack of any information about the nature and content of medical training, and of the skills, knowledge, and competencies required of trained doctors in other member states. Without this information it is not possible for competent authorities to be assured of the quality of education elsewhere.

‘What is a routine treatment or procedure for a GP in the UK, for example, may not be within the normal scope of a doctor trained from another EEA country.

‘It is therefore essential that EEA doctors, exercising their rights of free movement, are only granted recognition when they are known to be appropriately qualified and fit and safe to practise.’

The GMC has called for minimum standards across all 27 EU member states GMC response