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European dentists, doctors and pharmacists conclude: proposed proportionality tests for professional regulation ignore public interest and threaten quality and safety of patient care

European dentists, doctors and pharmacists conclude: proposed proportionality tests for professional regulation ignore public interest and threaten quality and safety of patient care

The Council of European Dentists (CED), the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) and the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) have met the publication of the proposal for a Directive on a proportionality test for the adoption of a new or for amendments to the existing professional regulation with great concern.

The three health professions re-emphasise that purpose of the regulation of their professions is to assure the quality of healthcare services in public interest. Therefore, it has to remain clear and comprehensive and ensure safe and effective care. The regulation1 of the health professions along with all the rules applying to their activities must remain in the full competence of Member States2 and be based on local needs and national strategies. Such national strategies take into account demographical, geographical and cultural realities and reflect national preferences, such as the delegation of the regulatory task to the profession itself.

The three organisations are concerned by the lack of specificity in addressing the overall issue of health professional regulation. The CED, CPME and PGEU are convinced that health professions should be considered distinctly from other professions. Therefore, the three organisations call upon the EU institutions to exclude said professions from the scope of the harmonised EU proportionality test.
“We believe that the regulation of doctors’ practice is essential for the safety of patients more than anything else. As health professions we are very supportive of the regulatory measures the new Professional Qualifications Directive introduced to improve patient safety, mainly the alert mechanism and controls on language knowledge. We therefore regret that the Commission’s own efforts to make professional practice safer are now being threatened by the draft Directive. Case in point: does any small change to the national laws in place implementing the alert mechanism have to pass the proportionality test too?” asks Dr Jacques de Haller, President of the Standing Committee of European Doctors.

“It is a fundamental principle of EU and national law that public health must be protected by all possible means. That is why we highly question the intention of the draft Directive which reverses this fundamental principle: instead of protecting public health by regulation, the draft Directive challenges us to justify when regulation wants to protect public health. We are confident that the dentists and other health professions can pass this test, but at what price? The increase of bureaucracy and related costs will be immense,” argued Dr Marco Landi, President of the Council of European Dentists.

“The draft Directive gives priority for implementation of the Internal Market for services and professionals at any costs. It appears to identify any professional regulation at national level as a potential ‘barrier’. A sub-standard service provided by a pharmacist or a doctor or any other health professional will put patients at risk and in some cases, may lead to fatalities.” added Rajesh Patel MBE, President of the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union. “The new law will only increase costs and bureaucracy with no added value and may result in lower quality of healthcare services in the EU.”