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RCN challenges Professional Qualifications Bill

Nursing union the RCN has supplied a briefing to politicians who are about to consider the Professional Qualifications Bill.

The Professional Qualifications Bill sets out a new framework for the UK’s recognition of professional qualifications acquired overseas and will affect the ability of overseas nurses to work in the UK, and vice versa. 

The law will give regulators, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the ability to make agreements with their international equivalents. 

It will replace previous legislation, which facilitated the free movement of professionals in EU member states, that became void in the UK with its exit from the EU.

In the briefing, the RCN raises concerns about the lack of detail about the Bill’s full intentions and scope – leaving clauses open to wide interpretation. There is also the potential for the Bill to grant far-reaching powers to the secretary of state and ministers in devolved administrations.

For example, the proposed legislation enables governments to include international recognition of qualifications agreements within future trade deals. 

Overall, we believe this potentially risks patient safety, as it could open the door to interference in existing standards of education and practice.

The Professional Qualifications Bill was introduced in the House of Lords in May 2021 and is likely to reach Royal Assent stage by December or early 2022.


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