The pharmacy regulator has expressed “grave concerns” about the introduction of the European Professional Card (EPC) in January 2016, which is designed to speed up the approval of pharmacists from within the EU to practise in the UK.
The EPC is a new electronic system drawn up by the European Commission that will check an EU worker’s qualifications to confirm that they are recognised to allow them to work in a host country. It will make other necessary administrative checks. The idea behind the scheme is to ease the mobility of EU professionals between member states.
The first professions to be offered the EPC route are pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurses, real estate agents and mountain guides.
But the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) — which has opposed the EPC since it was first mooted — says it continues to have reservations about the card. It is particularly worried because those pharmacists who go down the EPC route will be exempt from the new regulatory requirement coming into force in 2016, which says all pharmacists must be competent in English language in order to practice in Great Britain.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, says: “We are particularly concerned… because [EU pharmacists’] registration with us will solely be determined by their home member state as a result of the EPC. In addition, European pharmacists providing temporary and occasional services will not have to meet new requirements… for all applicants to show that they have the necessary English language skills for safe and effective practice before they can be registered.”
He says the GPhC will continue to work with the Department of Health, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the European Commission to seek to mitigate the risks to patients.
“We will also continue to use all our regulatory powers to ensure that only those who are fit to practise continue to be on our register,” he adds.