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Building a European Health Union: Opening borders for intensive care specialists

Health & healthcare / POLICY BRIEF
Danielle Brady

Date: 23/03/2022
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of a well-functioning intensive care medicine (ICM) workforce and exposed staff shortages across Europe. It has also placed a spotlight on the barriers to the free movement of ICM specialists between EU member states due to a lack of mutual recognition under the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications.

The European Commission and its member states must remove the roadblocks to the freedom of movement of ICM specialists and include the profession in the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. This would better prepare the EU and its member states for future crises and ensure quality ICM for all citizens.

Minimum EU training requirements and competences should be established and incorporated into the existing ICM training programmes across the member states – many of which already require at least two years. A common framework could establish minimum requirements for intensivists to practice in ICUs across the EU. A common minimum training period and the core competencies required as an ICM specialist should be defined.

The continuing stress on ICUs across Europe exposes the need for the EU to tackle these barriers. Building a stronger European Health Union with freely moving ICM specialists will help prevent the return of the darkest days of the pandemic and improve the resilience of Europe’s healthcare systems.

Read the full paper here.
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