Nurses to retrain as doctors ‘more quickly’ without EU red tape

Without being bound by strict EU regulations, training can be based upon experience and qualifications, rather than strict time-frames.

Laura Townsend
9 February 2020

Leaving the EU means the UK has greater control over the training of healthcare professionals.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that nurses and other allied healthcare professionals will be able to retrain as doctors ‘more quickly’ now the UK has left the EU.


Under training standards set by the EU, existing healthcare professionals wishing to move into another area would have to complete a set standard of training, regardless of any existing health background or qualifications.

This includes 5,500 hours of training and a minimum of five years to become a doctor.

Under the potential new system, a nurse who has been in the job for 10 years could benefit from training standards based upon experience and qualifications, rather than strict time-frames.

Newly designed courses would reduce unnecessary duplication by taking into account existing qualifications, training, and lived-experience.


Not bound by EU regulations.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our incredible NHS is full of highly-qualified and dedicated professionals – and I want to do everything I can to help them fulfil their ambitions and provide the best possible care for patients.

“Without being bound by EU regulations, we can focus on ensuring our workforce has the necessary training which is best suited to them and their experience, without ever compromising on our high standards of care or on patient safety. The plans we are setting out today mean that we can retrain healthcare workers and get them back to the frontline faster. This is good for patients, and good for our NHS.

“Healthcare professionals across the NHS work tirelessly, day in, day out, to improve the lives of those around them and I welcome this chance to review any unnecessary barriers that can delay them from reaching their full potential in our NHS.”

“This is an important step in our efforts to deliver on our commitments and boost the number of staff in our NHS – backed by record funding of £33.9 billion extra a year by 2023/24.”


Professionals must be safe and competent.

Nursing leaders warn that the move needs to come without compromising patient care.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said: “Having enough health and care professionals with the right knowledge, skills and values is vital to meet the individual needs of people across all four countries of the UK now and in the future.

“The NMC supports the wish to explore how education and training for registered nurses and midwives may be achieved in more flexible ways while ensuring our high standards are maintained and not compromised. Every nursing and midwifery professional must be safe and competent to provide the best care and support possible.

Susan Masters, Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Standards of education must remain high and we will look closely at how proposals on flexibility can achieve this.

“When every profession in health care is facing shortages, the key to filling jobs and keeping patients safe is to attract more people overall as well as allow existing professionals to move around.


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