Intended for healthcare professionals


Warning over EU minimum specialty training requirements

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 21 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:cf_profquals2108
  1. Caroline White
  1. 1BMJ
  1. cwhite{at}

Concerns have been raised over European parliamentary proposals that would allow EU doctors who have not completed a minimum amount of specialist medical training to practise in other member states.

The internal market committee, which is leading the revision of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications directive, has made several amendments to the original European Commission text in a bid to facilitate the movement of doctors across member states.

The revisions propose that partial exemptions be made to the requirement that migrating doctors must complete a minimum of five years of postgraduate training to practise a specialty. The exemptions would recognise training undertaken in a related specialty both within the doctor’s home state and in other member states.

Under the new proposals, a doctor who had completed specialty training in radiology in Poland, for example, but wanted to specialise in nuclear medicine, would not have to complete the full period of nuclear medicine training required in the UK or any other EU country.

But the Standing Committee for European Doctors and the BMA are concerned that this approach might compromise training standards.

“Radiology and nuclear medicine are very very similar, but our worry is that this would water down standards, because we have no way of knowing exactly what that doctor covered in the training at home,” a spokesperson for the BMA told BMJ Careers.

“There may be some leeway to let countries have partial exemption within their own borders—Bristol and Aberdeen, for example—because the GMC knows those courses will be quality assured,” she adds.

The proposals will be debated in the autumn by the internal market, public health, and employment committees of the European Commission.

The BMA intends to lobby MEPs to quash the move, ahead of the mid-October deadline for tabling any amends to the proposals, said the spokesperson.

There are also moves afoot to change the length of undergraduate medical training recognised across the EU. At current the minimum is six years or 5500 hours, but the European Commission has proposed to change this requirement to five years plus 5500 hours. Germany is keen to extend this even further to six years plus 5500 hours.

“This could have a devastating impact on our own graduate entry programmes in the UK,” said the BMA spokesperson. “We hope that Germany is standing alone on this issue, otherwise a Pandora’s box could be opened in autumn.”

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