Is the NHS subject to competition law?

nhs logoLiam Goulding, University of Lancaster

The coalition government’s plans for the future of healthcare in England, through the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA), herald fundamental changes to the NHS. By experimenting with a greater role for competition it is unclear to what extent EU competition law is applicable to the NHS. In the application of the competition prohibitions, in Arts 101 and 102 TFEU, two concepts – ‘undertaking’ and ‘solidarity’ – become crucial. Unfortunately, despite the centrality of the ideas, neither is defined in the Treaty, leaving the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to develop and establish their content.

The CJEU in Höfner Case C-41/90 defines an undertaking as:

‘every entity engaged in an economic activity, regardless of the legal status of the entity and the way in which it is financed’. Continue reading

House of Lords in favour of language tests for doctors

Claire Darwin

Just as EUtopia predicted, it is looking increasingly likely that the controversy over language tests for doctors and nurses will result in an EU legal challenge. Today, the House of Lords European Union Select Committee has published a report criticising  the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, and claiming that the requirements currently contained in the Directive are not sufficient. The Committee claim that the Directive strikes the wrong balance between allowing  healthcare professionals to work in other EU countries and ensuring the safety of patients. Further, the Committee has recommended that the GMC, Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Dental Council and General Pharmaceutical Council should be allowed to test the language skills of all non-UK applicants. The full report is available here.

No EU Law Controversy regarding GMC Proposals – Yet!

Claire Darwin

Is medicine practised differently in the UK than in other countries? The GMC, in their first ever report on The State of Medical Education and Practice 2011, appear to think so. Further, the GMC concluded that many overseas doctors have problems adjusting to the cultural, ethical and professional environment in the UK. Accordingly, the GMC believe that “More needs to be done to ensure consistency of induction for overseas trained doctors, so that they can gain an early understanding of the ethical and professional standards they will be expected to meet, as well as familiarity with how medicine is practiced in the UK.”

Continue reading