Psychologists trained elsewhere in Europe no longer “trainees”

European clinical psychologists trained outside the UK do no longer need to submit essays or dissertations in order to demonstrate they are capable of working for the NHS.

It follows rulings earlier this year from the European Commission and the government’s department for education and skills that clinical psychologists trained in the rest of Europe should stop being considered as trainees, but fully-qualified professionals.

It means clinical psychologists from the rest of Europe who want to work for the NHS will not have to submit written work, including case reports, in order to gain a “statement of equivalence” and chartered status.

Critics said the statement of equivalence scheme, managed by The British Psychological Society (BPS), had sometimes put experienced overseas psychologists through months, even years, of unnecessary academic work.

Dr Martin Seager, a consultant psychologist who has campaigned for the BPS to reform its accreditation system, has accused the BPS of an “arrogant, elitist, egocentric and unaccountable” attitude towards overseas clinical psychologists.

The BPS, however, says it has always tried to maintain high standards in clinical psychology, for the benefit of clients.

Clinical psychologists from any of the other 26 European countries will still be required to demonstrate, while working in the UK, their “competence” to supervisors.

Dr Seager, head of psychology at North East London Mental Health Trust, said pressure will now be put on the BPS to apply the same “equitable treatment” for clinical psychologists trained outside Europe..

“This will be the likely and inevitable result of these changes. A two-tier system would look bad,” he said.

However, Helen Clark, the BPS’s exams and awards officer said there are “no immediate plans” to change procedures for non-European psychologists.

“However, the society does regularly review its regulations, and we will certainly seek to learn lessons from [the new EU] regulations about these methods of competence-based assessment and what aspects of this might usefully be applied across regulations, so we can’t rule out changes in the future,” she said.

Twenty per cent of applications for a statement of equivalence in clinical psychology are from European Union (EU) psychologists.

The EU countries are: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, Sweden, The Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.

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