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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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EuropeanCommissionJanuary 6 2016

Changes coming into effect later this month will introduce the European Professional Card as a way of recognising professional qualifications from other European countries.

The EPC, an electronic rather than physical card, “will store proof of qualifications and additional information needed to gain recognition in other member states -enabling professionals to move more freely and quickly on a temporary or occasional basis, or to establish themselves in another member state on a more permanent basis,” said NHS Employers.

Details on how the card will be used are set out in new regulations coming into effect on January 18. ‘The European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015’ relate to the minimum standards of training across a wide range of professions, and covers pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The regulations establish rules for the recognition of professional qualifications across the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

A second statutory instrument, currently in draft form, will make the necessary changes for European qualifications specifically relating to health and social care professionals. It includes a number of amendments the Pharmacy Order 2010.

NHS Employers has summarised the implications of the regulations which, in addition to the EPC, reflect:

  • changes to minimum training requirements
  • a new provision of enabling partial access to regulated professions for certain professionals
  • a new European-wide alert system to enhance patient safety by identifying professionals of concern more readily, should a professional have practising restrictions placed on them
  • English language requirements

In addition, NHS Employers has published its response to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on draft rules regarding the need for evidence of English language skills and competence. The GPhC consultation ran until December 17 2015 and looked at how it might check pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have met the requirements before they can join the register and practise in Great Britain.

In its submission to the GPhC, NHS Employers has said it fully supports:

  • the need to check the English language skills of pharmacy professionals, as language competence and communication are fundamental to safe and effective clinical practice
  • actions which ensure that regulatory processes are robust, responsive and proportionate to risk
  • the consistent application of the new regulations across the different professional regulatory bodies, where this is sensible
  • clear and timely communication of the changes for both individuals and employers.

“Being competent with English language both between professionals and professionals and the public is essential to safe practice. We would support an equitable and standard approach to assessing language competence for all those on the register and that there is a commitment to review the effectiveness and impact of the new measures,” it said.

Links:

NHS Employers announcement on EU qualifications regulations

The European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015

Department of Health ‘Mutual recognition of professional qualifications in healthcare’ consultation

NHS Employers- GPhC response

GPhC consultation documents

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