On 15 May 2012, EPHA co-organised an event in collaboration with our member the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) at the European Parliament. Cristian Buşoi MEP (ALDE, Romania) hosted and moderated a policy debate on the contribution of ’’intensivists’’ to better patient outcomes and health systems, tied to the launch of a two-day exhibition to promote the ESCIM’s LIFE-PRIORITY campaign.
The overall aim of the policy debate, entitled ’’Improving Patient Outcomes through Intensive Care Medicine’’, which took place in the context of the revision process of several key Directives impacting on intensive care professionals - amongst them clinical trials, medical devices, health threats, and professional qualifications -, was to alert EU policy-makers to the increasing demand for intensive care medicine due to the challenges that European health systems are facing today.
One of the key cautionary messages was that European healthcare systems will need to be reorganised and staff shortages will need to be addressed. Otherwise, Europe will not be able to adequately manage the next pandemic, much less treat the current population which is becoming older, sicker and more demanding every year.
In his opening address, Dr Cristian Buşoi MEP stressed that it was important to include intensive care providers on the EU healthcare agenda. He recalled that intensive care is the most expensive, technologically advanced, resource-intensive and decisive area of medical care. It was not just about costs but about saving lives, hence long-term investments in infrastructure and research would benefit all people living in Europe. Integration of care was another issue that needed to be tackled.
Prof. Andrew Rhodes, President of the European Society of Intensive Care (ESICM) and a UK-based clinician deplored the lack of recognition of the importance of intensive care and the specialty training that it requires. He explained that intensive care has a major impact on the level of care that patients receive, and it also influences overall outcomes. Hence it was important to train, recruit and retain sufficient numbers of ICU doctors, nurses, and other support staff.
Dr Cornelius Bartels, senior expert in bioterrorism at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reflected on the impact of epidemics or highly infectious diseases on consumption of staff resources. He stressed that the special multi-disciplinary training made them the best choice in the treatment of cross-border epidemics and other health threats, such as antimicrobial resistance, as they were able to detect and manage them in line with relevant guidelines and procedures.
Stefano Soro, the head of the unit in charge of the revision of the Clinical Trials Directive provided an overview of the work undertaken by the Commission and confirmed that the aim was to have a more streamlined process that would allow fast, slim, pragmatic, and not disproportionately expensive decision-making on CT, meeting stakeholders’ requirements and reverting the trend of declining clinical trials in Europe. He informed the participants that the Commission aims to adopt its proposal before the summer break; it will probably take the form of a Regulation instead of a Directive. Dr Busoi MEP expressed his wish that the EP will support the Commission’s approach to cut red tape and allow for a more simplified CT procedure.
Following the policy debate, MEP Buşoi officially opened a two-day exhibition and campaign in support of the LIFE-Priority Fund (an ESICM initiative) in- and outside the European Parliament that aimed at heightening public awareness about the importance of intensive care. The exhibition showcased critical care equipment and practitioners were on hand to train EU members, staff and the public on life-saving techniques including cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
For further information
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Spotlight on the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM)
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Clinical Trials Directive: A barrier to research and innovation in Europe?