Labour MEP for Ireland South, Phil Prendergast, welcomed today’s vote in the European Parliament to review EU legislation governing mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Prendergast, a former nurse and midwife with over 20 years experience, played an active role in this reform to ensure patient safety, securing the approval of provisions requiring language proficiency tests prior to recognition of healthcare workers’ qualifications gained abroad.
Prendergast also fought to eliminate a loophole in current law, allowing for the establishment of a new, EU-wide alert system notifying all national authorities when doctors and nurses are struck off due to criminal convictions or disciplinary action within three days, thus preventing them from moving to practice abroad.
Speaking at a debate in Strasbourg before the positive vote, Prendergast said:
“A simpler, faster recognition process will not only improve the ability of professionals to move and work elsewhere in the EU, but also the lives of those who need to avail of their services.
“However, improved mobility could not be achieved at all costs. This priority had to be balanced with the need to safeguard the health and safety of our patients.
“The extension of the scope of the directive to trainees is also a welcome step forward and will help improve the conditions of young professionals seeking a future abroad.
“A new professional card, the ability to exchange information electronically among public authorities, and the applicants’ ability to initiate their professional recognition requests with the authorities of their home country all represent improvements that I look forward to seeing in place.”