The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has concluded the European Qualifications (Health and Social Care Professions) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations (2019/593) (‘the EU Exit Regulations’) will remain in place “for a temporary period of five years”.

This means that This means that for as long as the EU Exit Regulations remain in place, an annual average of more than 4,000 EEA-qualified doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and other healthcare professionals can work in the NHS without the need to sit additional professional exams or undergo further assessment by their regulator. 

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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consulted on a number of options but concluded that. Option B, to “Retain the standstill provisions, allowing current recruitment arrangements for EEA-qualified healthcare professionals to continue and adequate time to consider and co-develop meaningful legislative improvements with stakeholders” was the most appropriate.

It concluded that:

The evidence considered throughout the review, including stakeholder engagement, collated data and the wider policy considerations, leads us to conclude that option B will provide the optimal outcome for patients, regulators and the wider healthcare workforce.

Retaining the standstill provisions for a temporary period of 5 years, will support the department’s ambition to attract and recruit overseas healthcare professionals, without introducing complex and burdensome registration routes.

EEA qualified healthcare professionals will be able to continue to register with the relevant professional regulator, without the need to sit additional professional exams, mitigating delays to registration and employment in the NHS.

In pursuing option B, the DHSC will:

  • explore the legislative improvements suggested by regulators in the consultation and the viability of delivery between 2024 and 2026
  • determine what is required to establish emergency cross-border working arrangements on the island of Ireland
  • determine whether to carry out a further review of the operation of the standstill provisions in 5 years’ time, as part of the wider programme of regulatory reform

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