EPF takes a stand on the Professional Qualifications Directive

Professional Qualifications have a direct impact on patient safety and are of great concern for the patient community. Ensuring that healthcare professionals have the right training, and are fit to practice when they move from one EU Member State to another is of crucial importance for safety and quality of care. This is the reason why EPF released in June its position statement on the European Commission’s proposal to review the Directive  2005/36/EC.

Healthcare professionals are the most mobile category among the regulated professions in the EU and their mobility is likely to increase in future. Mobility of the health workforce can help balance workforce shortages and surpluses, and lead to exchange of good practices across Europe. But there is also a potential risk to patient safety and of increased health inequalities if quality standards for healthcare are not assured. EPF’s statement calls for several changes to the proposal, to make patient safety a priority over internal market considerations.

This includes:

  • Language requirements:  EPF calls for clearer provisions on the checking of language competences for all healthcare professionals. Language should be checked before the healthcare professional starts to practice in another Member State. National competence requirements should be developed in each Member States, with the input of patient organisations, to ensure that language skills are adequately checked, regardless of whom carries the testing.
  • Fitness to practice: EPF considers it is essential to ensure that healthcare professionals’ fitness to practice is adequately verified by authorities, whether for temporary mobility or long term establishment. This encompasses the completion of national continuing professional development requirements where they exist. We also call for more transparency on fitness to practice towards the patients through establishing easily accessible platforms in all Member States.
  • Alert Mechanism: EPF welcomes the Commission’s proposal to put in place an alert mechanism between competent authorities to warn each other when a healthcare professional under sanction applies for recognition.  EPF strongly advise to extend this system to ensure competent authorities alert each other when a fake diploma comes to their attention.
  • Patient involvement: EPF strongly believe that patients play a key role in identifying healthcare service needs, including the appropriate skills and competences needed for high quality healthcare: patients live with their disease every day, learn to manage it, and to navigate the health system to get the care they need.  EPF’s statement stresses that patient organisations should have a say in developing the training schemes for health professionals, whether this is done at national or at EU level.

As for the next steps, you can find the main dates here.