BMA Q and A: EU challenge to UK training
29 November 2012
BMA international committee chair Terry John answers your questions
What is the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and how does it affect doctors in the UK?
EU directive 2005/36 governs the ability of doctors to have their qualifications recognised throughout Europe, allowing them to practise in all 27 EU member states.
It is being revised and new rules are likely to be introduced that will affect the process of non-UK trained doctors applying to join the UK Medical Register, the ability of competent authorities to test the language skills of applicants and the introduction of an EU-wide alert system to prevent dangerous doctors from evading censure by practising abroad.
Will the new rules force the UK to lengthen BMT (basic medical training)?
The EC (European Commission) is keen to clarify the rules on the length of BMT to ensure the highest possible standards across Europe. Some national medical associations and MEPs are calling for BMT to consist of a minimum of six years study in addition to 5,500 hours of theoretical and practical training.
The BMA is opposing this because of the impact it would have on graduate entry medical programmes. These programmes are quality assured by the GMC to the same standard as regular school-leaver programmes and we do not want to see them fall foul of any changes to the rules.
Why does the BMA oppose the harmonisation of specialty training across the EU?
There are calls from some MEPs to give the EC the power to determine the content of specialty training across Europe. While the BMA is keen to ensure that standards of specialist medical training are raised, it feels it is inappropriate to give the EC the power to legislate in this area.
Education and training remain national competences and the association strongly resists any moves towards European harmonisation. We need to ensure that qualifications are equivalent and comparable but this does not require a top-down approach.
What is the BMA doing to influence the new rules?
The BMA has been involved in the process of revising the directive from the beginning. It has responded to EU- and UK-level consultations and has met key MEPs and EC officials to express its concerns.
It is influencing debate through the membership of the various European medical organisations and has been liaising closely with other UK health stakeholders to take joint action where appropriate. The European Parliament is due to take its first vote on the issue in January 2013.
See European degree proposals threaten graduate courses