A revised European Union (EU) directive that heralds the introduction of the European Professional Card (EPC) and aims to make it easier for some healthcare professionals — including pharmacists — to work across EU states came into force on 18 January 2015.
The EPC is pivotal to the success of the directive, which has been designed to speed up online procedures for professional registration to practise across the EU for pharmacists, general care nurses and physiotherapists.
An EU-wide warning system to prevent rogue professionals from practising — despite being disciplined by their home professional regulator — also comes into force as part of the rewritten directive. In future, regulators in member states — including the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) — will have to share information about practitioners who have been banned from practising because of professional misconduct within three days of the decision being made.
The revised directive — Directive 2005/36/EC — comes in as the UK government is about to complete its consultation, originally launched in December 2015, on how the changes are to be incorporated into its statute books.
The GPhC expressed “grave concerns” about the EPC in November 2015, ahead of the UK consultation, fearing that pharmacists making use of the card system to practise in Great Britain on a temporary or occasional basis would be exempt from the GPhC’s new requirement — coming into force in 2016 — that says all pharmacists must be competent in English in order to practise in Great Britain.
At that time, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said he was “particularly concerned” because an EU pharmacist’s registration, allowing the pharmacist to practise outside their home state, would be determined by their home professional regulator.
- This article was amended on 21 January 2016 to clarify the GPhC’s concerns, which relate to pharmacists using the new card system to practise in Great Britain on a temporary or occasional basis.