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.
European Parliament votes to allow NHS bodies to continue to produce specialist diagnostic tests for patients
On 22 October 2013 the full European Parliament voted on new legislation to replace the current Directive on in vitro diagnostic medical devices. The vote reflects many of the concerns put forward by the European Office on behalf of the NHS, and we are pleased that the European Parliament has backed our proposal to retain the “in-house” exemption in the revised Regulation for the vast majority of IVDs. Find out more.
Revision of EU data protection laws could lead to a less effective NHS
At a time when Caldicott2 and Information Governance is high on the agenda of the NHS, the NHS European Office and the Royal College of Physicians have raised their concerns on how the European Parliament’s stance on the revision of the EU’s data protection laws could negatively impact healthcare provision and the quality and effectiveness of health research in the UK. Find out more.
Greece and Ireland referred to European Court
The European Commission has decided to refer both Greece and Ireland to the European Court of Justice for their failure to comply with the limits imposed on the working hours of hospital doctors contained in the Working Time Directive (WTD). Many European countries are finding it difficult to comply with the rigid restrictions on working time contained in the WTD and the European Office has long campaigned on behalf of the NHS for a common-sense relaxation of some of the rules to better fit services that operate 24 hours, such as healthcare. See our page for more on the Working Time Directive.
European health leaders visit Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust
A European summit showcasing NHS and European best practices in ensuring high-quality, patient-centred care took place in Birmingham on 28-29 October 2013. The event was jointly hosted by the NHS European Office, the NHS Confederation's Hospitals Forum and the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation (HOPE), and included a visit to Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, where a delegation of senior representatives from HOPE met with nurses to see first-hand their work to improve the quality of patient care.
Lessons from Europe: new briefings available
The European Office has published a further 2 briefings from its Lessons from Europe series of seminars, which it organised with LSE Health and the Health Services Research Network. The seminars aimed to demonstrate how health policy experience from Europe could be applied in practice in health organisations in England and heard from experts from several European countries on a range of health issues. See here to download the latest briefings.
NHS European Office secures changes to new EU rules on professional mobility
A final vote in the European Parliament on 9 October 2013 has agreed the new rules governing the movement of healthcare professionals across Europe. The vote follows months of negotiations and the NHS European Office engaged significantly with the Directive, securing important changes for the NHS, including whether and when incoming migrants can be subjected to language checks, mechanisms to prevent bad healthcare professionals from travelling to other EU countries to treat patients and the minimum standards for length and content of training.
The NHS European Office has produced a briefing which provides an overview of the key aspects of the new Directive and its implications for NHS organisations. See our press release and our page on the mobility of healthcare professionals.
New European Office briefing on public procurement
The NHS European Office has produced a briefing on the new EU Directive on public procurement, which was informally agreed at EU level in June 2013. Following a year and a half of intense negotiations, our Office secured important changes in the rules, given their importance for the NHS. The briefing provides an overview of the key aspects of the Directive and its implications for NHS commissioners and providers. To download a copy of the briefing, see our public procurement page.
EU Parliament agrees new rules on tobacco products
On 8 October 2013, the full European Parliament voted on the proposed Tobacco Products Directive, paving the way for negotiations to begin between MEPs and the Council of Ministers. The proposals include pictorial warnings to cover 65% of the packaging (front and back), a ban on the use of cigarette flavours, including menthol, by 2020 and new rules to govern the use of e-cigarettes, which will be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products, but which will not be classed as medicinal products as some had lobbied.
The Council and European Parliament will now have to agree the final text before it can become law. Once adopted, it most likely will come into effect from 2015-2016. Read more.
Measuring innovation output in Europe
As part of its Europe 2020 strategy for growth, the European Commission launched its new "innovation indicator" on 13 September 2013. The indicator measures the extent to which ideas from innovative sectors, including health, are able to reach the market, providing better jobs and making Europe more competitive. The new indicator shows a wide range of innovation output across EU Member States, with the UK among the top 7 performers. Read more.
New symbol to identify medicines undergoing additional monitoring
From September 1st 2013, a new symbol will appear on medicines which will allow patients and medical professionals to identify medicinal products that are subject to additional monitoring. Taking the form of an inverted triangle, the symbol will appear on the inside leaflet and the accompanying text will encourage patients and medical professionals to report any unexpected adverse reactions through national reporting systems. Read more.
NHS European Office presents to the EU's 28 Employment Ministers
Kate Ling from the NHS European Office spoke before the Employment Ministers from the 28 EU member states in July, on behalf of CEEP, the European representative body for public sector employers. Kate was offering full support on behalf of CEEP, for the Lithuanian Presidency’s priority for tacking youth unemployment and the recent launch of the European alliance for apprenticeships.
As well as raising the important role public services play in providing jobs for the future, she spoke about what employers can do to turn this aspiration into a reality, citing the NHS's work on apprenticeship schemes in particular.
EU Parliament vote secures continued patient access to MRI scanners
Following a successful campaign by the NHS European Office, the European Parliament voted on 11 June 2013 to allow continued patient access to life-saving MRI treatments, while at the same time protecting staff working with MRI scanners from adverse effects and risks to their health and safety. See our press release.
Yorkshire & Humber awarded European "reference site" status
The European Commission has formally designated Yorkshire & Humber as an example of best practice in implementing innovative technological health solutions, which should be replicated in other regions across Europe. Our Office assisted colleagues in the region with the application process. Find out the details
Protecting healthcare workers from sharps injuries
New regulations implementing EU law on the prevention of sharps injuries came into force on 11 May 2013. The NHS European Office 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 Parliament backs NHS calls for Clinical Trials Directive changes
The European Parliament voted at committee stage on a new EU law to replace the existing controversial Clinical Trials Directive, agreeing many changes proposed by our Office on behalf of the NHS. We will continue to engage with EU decision-makers to ensure the changes are maintained in the final text. Read more about the Directive