Taylor: MEPs focus on patient safety in medical devices vote

MEPs today agreed to enter negotiations with national governments on new rules for the safety and performance of medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices.

Lib Dem MEPs in particular stressed the need to act to try to prevent health scares like last year’s faulty breast implants scandal by undertaking stricter market surveillance including unannounced inspections of manufacturers and better traceability rules.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor, said:

“Patient safety and confidence must be the main focus of any new rules, but we must do this in a way that allows enough flexibility to stimulate innovation and healthy competition within the market. It is vital to strengthen transparency and controls in order to avoid health scares such as the faulty breast implants scandal. Continue reading

MEPs break down barriers for qualified professionals

MEPs in Strasbourg voted today to make it easier for qualified professionals to practice their profession in another EU country.

MEPs approved the introduction of an e-card detailing a person’s qualification and experience and enabling the mutual recognition of professional qualifications across the EU.

Among many other professions, the new rules cover health professionals including doctors and nurses and explicitly allow for their language skills to be tested, recognising that a good grasp of the local language is important for patient safety.  

Lib Dem MEP Rebecca Taylor, European health spokeswoman, commented:

“These new EU rules will help the UK to ensure that doctors and nurses who offer their services to the NHS are not only appropriately qualified, but also have English language skills that enable them to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues. The new e-card will allow easy and uncomplicated background checks and existing rules on language tests have been clarified.

“The rules on mutual recognition of professional qualifications are also great news for Brits abroad who want to market their skills in other EU countries.”

MEPs also voted for the creation of an alert mechanism which requires Member States to exchange information on professionals who have been struck off or restricted from practicing their professional activity or who have used falsified documents.

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Note to editors:

The revised Professional Qualifications Directive adopted by MEPs today also includes an evaluation process of national regulations on qualified professions to help reduce barriers of free movement. The evaluation process will take place between Member States and is expected to conclude in 2016. For more information, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/policy_developments/131002_communication_en.pdf

Taylor/Davies: Lib Dem MEPs will continue fight for availability of e-cigarettes

MEPs in the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee today voted to update the ten year old tobacco directive  including provisions to ban the use of ‘characterising flavours’ (such as  chocolate and menthol) and slim-style cigarettes which are designed to appeal to younger and/or female consumers to encourage them to take up smoking.

Apart from packaging and labelling, other provisions included ingredients, cross-border sales and traceability for the purposes of enforcing product safety standards.

Lib Dem European health spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor MEP welcomed the adoption of rules requiring that all cigarette packets in future should have health warnings covering at least 75% of the surface  to make packaging far less appealing to consumers  and discourage them from starting smoking. She said:

“One in two smokers dies as a direct result of their smoking and tobacco related diseases place a great burden on the NHS. Clear and visible  health warnings on cigarette packets  play a role in making tobacco less attractive, particularly to potential first time consumers, who are overwhelmingly young, as 94% of smokers start smoking before the age of 25. Continue reading

Taylor: EU steps up fight against cross-border health threats

MEPs in Strasbourg today adopted new EU rules to strengthen cross-border cooperation to tackle serious cross border health threats such as influenza, coronavirus and E-coli. 

As part of the strengthened cooperation framework, EU-wide health emergencies can be declared and a new voluntary mechanism will allow countries to club together to bulk-order vaccines. 

Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem European health spokesperson commented:

“Europe needs to be better prepared against outbreaks of communicable diseases such as avian flu or swine flu, but also against other health threats which can spread across borders such as those of a chemical, biological or environmental origin. 

“The new rules mean that there will be more cooperation between EU countries in the planning, monitoring and response stages of tackling a health crisis. 

“EU countries remain responsible for putting wide-ranging action plans in place, but are required to undertake risk-assessment procedures in a transparent way and to coordinate their responses to avoid the chaos of the 2011 E-coli outbreak where different EU countries blamed different vegetables for the outbreak before the facts were properly established, which was very confusing for citizens.”

“The framework will also be linked to the veterinary sector as animal health and zoonotic infections have been a factor in many recent cross-border health threats.”

Fighting tax dodging and corruption: MEPs vote for tough new rules on corporate transparency

MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee today voted in favour of tough amendments to European Commission’s proposals requiring oil, mining and logging companies to disclose payments to governments of countries in which they operate on a project by project basis.  MEPs also succeeded in extending the scope of the legislation to cover the banking, construction and telecommunications sector. Continue reading