In fact, what the EU did was prevent the European-qualified medical staff being entered on the UK register, merely because they could not speak English. This did not in any way prevent hospitals insisting that staff displayed a specific level of skill – it simply transferred the responsibility from the national registration authorities to the individual employers.
The EU has muscled the national authority out of the way. Through incompetence or bloody mindedness this has been translated into the legally responsible party (hospitals) being told by someone other than the EU or coming to understand that it is not allowed to require decent language skill from its employees.
When the EU clarified things that should have been the end of it but at that time the British medical authorities were campaigning for centralising the language requirement into their hands which IIRC the EU directive doesn't allow for except in individual cases when concerns have been raised.
It isn't complicated: The hospitals are responsible for ensuring the people they employ are suitable for the job and that includes checking language skills. The discrimination against people with poor English is a sensible one given the patients generally speak English and the labels and terms used are in English. It's not about race, it's not about nationality, it's about the safety of patients so it is allowed.
The most recent Mail article says:
Yet, far from tackling this dangerous situation, the European Union is set to reinforce rules which ban English tests for doctors and nurses from the EU before they are allowed to work here, branding it a ‘restraint of free movement’ of workers.
The European directive, currently being debated in Brussels, insists that British employers can only test medics from Europe after their poor English has endangered patient care, flagging ‘serious and concrete doubt about the professional’s sufficient language knowledge’.
I think they are referring to this Directive 2005/36/EC – policy developments
Article 53 of Directive 2005/36/EC says
"Persons benefiting from the recognition of professional qualifi-
cations shall have a knowledge of languages necessary for prac-
tising the profession in the host Member State."
If the person does not meet that standard they are not protected by the Directive. The problem appears to be that no language standard is being demanded by the direct employers of these professionals. At the same time the national authority is agitating to get that responsibility placed in their hands - ie that the BMA or whoever would test language skills - and this is what I think is not allowed. The EC directives talk about member states and national authorities. The responsibility of the actual employers seems to go unmentioned.(Perhaps because it is bloody obvious?)
Even the Press release Commission Representation United Kingdom
about the reform serves to muddle things.
No major changes to the legislation itself were required or were requested by the UK, as national authorities are fully able under existing EU law to ensure that language skills are tested before any practitioner takes up employment or is given permission to practice on a self-employed basis.
I take this to mean the national authority can require language skills are tested before employment, or certainly recommend it, not that the national authority does the checking themselves.(Which is one of the reforms they want.)
It further says
In practical terms, this means that the National Health Service can continue to perform controls itself, according to its judgment of the need to perform checks on the language skills of individual medical practitioners or categories of practitioners. Alternatively, it can request the government to undertake this task or to delegate it to a regulator.
If they aren't checking language skills it is because they don't want to.