Changes to EU Directive - mobility of health professionals across Europe


10 / 10 / 2013 10.25am

The EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) has been revised to help ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.




The EU Directive sets out the rules and procedures which apply to individuals who wish to practise in an EU country other than where they qualified. Revisions to the Directive aim to help individuals move freely within the EU whilst ensuring they are competent to practise through appropriate checks and procedures.

What this means for employers

language competence

Specific changes to language controls mean that in the future, language competence could be checked by regulators for European health professionals seeking professional registration in the UK.

Regulatory bodies will now be working with employers and other stakeholders to develop workable procedures that implement the new rules on language checks. See information below about the current consultations on language proficiency of EEA doctors.

These revisions do not change the requirement for employers to ensure, as part of the recruitment process, that applicants have the necessary skills and competencies to perform the role for which they are applying.

Current consultations on language proficiency

The General Medical Council (GMC) and the Department of Health (DH) have both launched consultations on the language proficiency of EEA (European Economic Area) doctors. NHS Employers is looking for employers' views to inform both these consultations. Find out more in the Medical workforce latest news section and have your say.

Other key outcomes of the revised directive

  • Regulators will have to proactively warn other Member States within three days when a health professional is banned or their practice restricted
  • the minimum training requirements for doctors is now five years AND 5500 hours, opposed to six years OR 5500 hours helping to train the GP workforce required
  • only fully qualified European health professionals will be able to access UK professional registers
  • continuing professional development should be actively encouraged by Member States to ensure those individuals covered by the automatic recognition regime are able to update their knowledge, skills and competencies.


The UK government has two years to incorporate the revised Directive into UK law and ensure its subsequent implementation.

Further information

NHS Employers has a dedicated Mobility of health professionals across Europe section which describes the changes and background in more detail.

The NHS Confederation has published a briefing on the new EU law on mobility. You can access this here.

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