Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Second Report


APPENDIX I

Memorandum by the Department of Health

EUROPEAN SPECIALIST MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 1997 (S.I. 1997/2928)

The Committee has requested a memorandum on two points concerning the above Regulations.

The Committee's first point

The new article 6(2A) of the European Specialist Medical Qualifications Order 1995 inserted by regulation 2(3) adds a further restriction to the issue of a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training to a person who has satisfactorily completed approved specialist training and (article 6(2)) is a registered medical practitioner. Explain the reason for the addition of the further restriction, identifying the Community obligation which requires or authorises it.

It is a requirement of articles 23 and 24 of Council Directive 93/16/EEC ("the medical directive") that training leading to the award of a specialist medical qualification must constitute a complete course of training. This obligation has been implemented in article 7(2) of the European Specialist Medical Qualifications Order 1995 ("the 1995 Order"), which provides that training must constitute an entire course of training in the specialty in question. In practice, training leading to the award of a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training ("CCST") will normally consist of employment in several different training posts. Those posts may be filled either by persons who have been appointed to a course of training which is intended to lead to the award of a CCST, or by persons who wish to obtain experience or expertise in a particular area and have a "fixed term training appointment", which is limited to the particular post in question. The procedure for appointment to a CCST training course (which can last up to five years) is much more rigorous than the procedure for a fixed term training appointment (which will normally last between six months and two years) and it was never the intention that a person should become entitled to the award of a CCST by undertaking a series of fixed term training appointments.

The new article 6(2A) was inserted in the 1995 Order in reliance, in part, on section 2(2)(a) of the European Communities Act 1972, in order to clarify the intended manner of implementation of the obligation to ensure that specialist training constitutes a complete course of training. The intention is to ensure that only persons who are considered by the UK authorities to meet appropriate criteria for the award of a CCST are in fact able to obtain a CCST.

It is the view of the Department of Health that section 2(2)(b) of the 1972 Act is also of relevance. Article 24 of the medical directive requires Member States to ensure that training leading to the award of a qualification in specialised medicine meets (or exceeds) the requirements set out in that article. Subject to those minimum requirements, entitlement to the award of a specialist medical qualification is a matter for Member States to determine. It is the view of the Department of Health that domestic arrangements governing entry to a CCST training programme and consequent entitlement to the award of a CCST are matters quite clearly "arising from" or "related to" Community rights and obligations, within the meaning of section 2(2)(b). They are an integral part of the regulatory scheme for the award of medical qualifications in accordance with the medical directive.

The Committee's second point

Article 12 of the 1995 Order entitles an existing specialist (who does not have such a Certificate) to be included in the specialist register if he applies to the Registrar before 1st January 1998 or later if he satisfies the Registrar of the specified matters. The words inserted into article 12 by regulation 2(4)(a)(ii), taken with the new paragraph (2C) inserted by regulation 2(4)(c), extend the entitlement to a person who falls within paragraph (2C) before 1st December 2001. Identify the provision of the Council Directive 93/16/EEC or subsequent amending Directives which authorises this extension.

Article 12 of the 1995 Order, and the amendment to it, were made under section 2(2)(b) of the European Communities Act 1972. Article 12(1) makes provision for an "existing specialist" (as defined in article 12(2)) to obtain entry to the specialist register (and therefore to practise as a consultant in the UK) in certain circumstances. At the time the 1995 Order was made, the Department of Health took the view that provision for this group of doctors, who would otherwise be unduly prejudiced by the change of regime on implementation of EC obligations, was a matter arising from or related to those obligations. The Department takes the view that the power under which the provision was made may also be relied upon in relation to amendment of that provision to extend the period for which the transitional measures will apply. The medical directive requires Member States to operate a system for the recognition of specialist qualifications and consequent authorisation to practise. Article 12 deals with a particular aspect of authorisation to practise (albeit in the UK only) and is, as such, part of the overall regime for the regulation of specialist doctors in the UK.

22nd January 1998


 
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