Post-graduate medical qualifications should be recognised across the European Union in order to remove barriers to the mobility of doctors, Lisette Tiddens, secretary-general of the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), told EURACTIV in an interview.
Agreed minimum standards for doctors are already in place, but recognition of post-graduate medical training is limited. Under the EU’s Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications, some 15 specialties – such as neurology and plastic surgery – are listed for mutual recognition across Europe, but this still leaves a number of disciplines where qualifications are not interchangeable.
“We are currently working to ensure that doctors’ continuous professional development and continuing medical education are guaranteed at a level that is acceptable to all member states. That is not very easy to do but it is one of our priorities,” Tiddens said.
She said medicine is an international profession and there has always been a tendency for doctors to travel in order to share knowledge and skills. However, she noted that e-health technology may make it easier to share expertise without the need for travel.
“Mobility of doctors in itself is a good thing as far as the exchange of knowledge is concerned. Nowadays you have the advantage of the Internet as well, so it may not be as necessary as in the past. But we do say that doctors should be allowed to go from one country to the next,” said Tiddens.
Tiddens expressed concern that the development of e-health has been dictated by industry rather than medical specialists.
“So far, industry has been determining what has been developed and that’s our worry. We think physicians have to be far more involved in the development of e-health,” she said.
The ‘brain drain’ issue has also resurfaced in recent months amid debate on the proposed Blue Card for skilled workers and criticism from African scientists that developed countries are continuing to take researchers and doctors from the developing world (EURACTIV 18/6/09).
Tiddens believes Europe should be capable of training its own medical workforce. “Brain drain is a major issue and should be prevented. Every member state should ensure that it has enough trained physicians, and we should certainly not take doctors from countries that have too few already,” she said.