The European Office is based in Brussels and London and is part of the NHS Confederation.
The Office covers a wide range of EU policy and legislative developments which have implications for the NHS, with a dedicated section on the NHS Employers website also covering European employment policy issues. In addition we offer a range of opportunities for NHS organisations to engage with EU affairs, to access EU support for innovation and to get involved in our work.
Protecting healthcare workers from sharps injuries
New regulations implementing EU law on the prevention of sharps injuries come into force on 11 May 2013. The NHS European Office has worked closely with the NHS Employers organisation and the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that the new regulations are sensible and workable for the health service. Read our press release and see our page on the prevention of sharps injuries for more detail.
European month of the brain
May 2013 has been designated European Month of the Brain and the European Commission has organised a programme of activities and conferences to raise awareness of the importance of supporting brain research, including a free conference in Brussels on 14 May 2013 – registration details here.
Understanding the human brain and its diseases has always been one of the greatest scientific and philosophical challenges. During the last decades, brain research has made great progress on all fronts but much more is still to be discovered. Health ICT plays a key role in this. It can help in understanding how the brain works, in disease prevention and diagnosis and in the therapy of brain diseases. The Month of the Brain will showcase the benefits, added value and impact of EU-supported research in this area, as well as defining the next scientific challenges for brain research.
Members States agree on continued patient access to MRI
Following a successful campaign by the NHS European Office, an informal agreement has been reached between representatives from EU Member States that will allow continued patient access to life-saving MRI treatments. The European Office fought for the specific needs of the health sector to be taken into account in new EU legislation on minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to electromagnetic fields. The agreement will receive its final vote in the EU Parliament in June 2013. Read more.
Improving health workforce planning in Europe
A colllaborative initiative on health workforce planning was launched in April. The Joint Action on Health Workforce Planning provides stakeholders from across Europe with a platform for the sharing of methodologies and best practice in workforce planning and forecasting. Read more.
Implementing the EU Directive on cross-border healthcare
The Department of Health has launched a consultation on implementing into UK law the EU Directive on patients' rights in cross-border healthcare. The consultation sets out the suggested approach for sharing responsibilities between NHS England and CCGs on key issues such as how the processes of prior authorisation and patient reimbursement should work and the provisions for dealing with patients from other countries who want to use NHS facilities under the terms of the Directive. See here to respond to the consultation and for more information. Responses should be submitted by 24 May 2013.
European Reference Networks
Under the European Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border health care, the development of European reference networks was promoted as a key area for cross-border cooperation among Member States. The networks are meant to improve access to and provision of high-quality specialised healthcare to those patients who need it, and to act as focal points for medical training and research, especially for rare diseases. This study by WHO Europe outlines some of the challenges of developing the concept of reference networks at national and European levels.
Vote on rules governing mobility of healthcare professionals across Europe is positive step forward
On 23 January 2013, members of the European Parliament Internal Market Committee approved a package of measures aimed at updating the rules on doctors, nurses and other health professionals who move from one European country to work in another. The measures include rules governing language testing, duration of training and an alert system to warn against cases of incompetence or fraud. Read our press release and see our webpage for more information.
European Commission publishes proposal to revise existing Tobacco Products Directive
On 19 December 2012, the European Commission released its proposal for a revised Directive on Tobacco Products. The proposed Directive aims to strengthen existing measures on how tobacco products can be manufactured, presented, and sold, as well as introduce new rules for products not covered by existing tobacco legislation. See here for more information.
Working time Directive: European Commission expected to bring forward revised proposal.
Negotiations between the cross-sectoral social partners at European level on the revision of the Working Time Directive have concluded with no agreement having been reached by the deadline of 31 December 2012. In the absence of any further developments, the expectation is that the European Commission will bring forward a revised proposal in due course. Read more on our work to revise the Working Time Directive.
Eurohealth publishes article by the EU Office on the revision of the EU Clinical Trials Directive
As clinical trials become increasingly important to the NHS, the latest edition of Eurohealth magazine has published an article by the NHS European Office on the revision of the existing EU clinical trials legislation and how some of the proposed changes can help boost health research in the UK. Read more on our clinical trials page.
Joint Statement on the EU clinical trials proposals
The NHS European Office, working with other stakeholders at European level, including the Royal College of Physicians and the Medical Research Council, has issued a joint statement on the proposed EU Regulation for clinical trials. The document welcomes those aspects of the Regulation that will help improve the research environment and highlights areas where it is felt more improvement is needed. See here to read more.
European Commission publishes proposals for new medical devices legislation
The European Commission has now published proposals to revise existing medical devices legislation in the form of two new Regulations on medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices, which will replace the existing Medical Devices Directives. These new proposals aim to ensure that patients, consumers and healthcare professionals benefit from the use of safe, effective and innovative medical devices, and in vitro diagnostic medical devices, and will bring EU rules in line with recent developments in the medical devices sector.
The proposals will now have to pass through the EU legislative procedure, with agreement needed between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Read more.
Newly agreed EU law on energy efficiency addresses NHS concerns
As a result of a campaign led by the NHS European Office, a recent vote in the European Parliament confirms that NHS organisations will be encouraged to make energy savings but will not be mandated to comply with restrictive and inflexible renovation measures which could have cost the NHS in excess of £70million per year. Read more.
European Programme for Research (FP7): Call now published
The European Commission has now published the 2013 call for project proposals under FP7. Priorities will include brain and brain-related diseases, cardiovascular diseases and antimicrobial drug resistance. This will be the final call under FP7 before Horizon 2020, the new EU programme for research and innovation, is introduced in 2014. See our FP7 page for more details.
EU cross-border organ information exchange made simpler
The European Commission has adopted new legislation to facilitate EU cross-border exchange of information about organs and their donors. This will help the traceability of organs and the reporting of serious adverse events, as well as requiring national authorities to exchange and store information. Read more.