The European Union of General Practitioners held its bi-annual General Assembly meeting on 30-31 May in Zagreb, Croatia.
The guests of honour at the General Assembly were Dr. Hrvoje Minigo and Dr. Mario Malnar, President and Vice-President of the Croatian Medical Chamber respectively, as well as Dr.Siniša Varga, Director of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, and Dr. Marijan Cesarik, Croatian Deputy Minister of Health. They provided UEMO with vital insights into the Croatian healthcare system. Dr. Varga gave a particularly compelling presentation, outlining the new models of primary health contracting. The new models aim to increase the quality and efficiency of healthcare provision and better channel healthcare funds. They allow for a higher average of preventive check-ups and panels for chronic patients in concessionaires, and ultimately present opportunities to generate additional income.
The Guest of Honour presentations were followed by two sessions of working groups. The first session comprised of three individual meetings – on Specialist Training, on Preventive Activities and on CME/CPD. During the second session of working groups, matters related to Ad Hoc WG, Cross-Border care and WG competencies of GPs in management of complexity were discussed. The working groups proved to be a forum for lively and engaging discussions among the participants. The General Assembly, held on 31St May, was opened by UEMO President Prof. Doc. Ferenc Hajnal. Reports on ongoing projects, as well as from the previous day’s working groups, were presented in the General Assembly. Dr. Mary McCarthy presented the preliminary results of the survey “What do Family Doctors do?”. Although medical training is comparable between EU Member States, the workload that General Practitioners / Family Doctors have varies significantly not only between countries, but also within the borders of a single country. For example, rural area Family Doctors tend to have more responsibilities than their urban area counterparts due to the lack of resources available in the countryside. Healthcare in EU Member States is organised either by the General Practitioner or by the patient, who in that case is free to choose which specialist to see. The questionnaire on the European Professionals Card (EPC) was also debated in the General Assembly. In general, broad support was expressed for the EPC, but some reservations still remain. These greatly relate to the division of responsibilities between Host and Home countries. UEMO Members believe that the Host country, not the Homecountry, should bear responsibility for regulatory investigations, since it is the Host country that is responsible for the patients under the care of the doctor entering the country. A further dialogue was suggested before the European Professional Card would be made available to doctors.
The General Assembly also adopted a position paper on the Added Value of Team Work which considers interprofessional collaboration as an added value to the quality of care and underlines some essential principles like Personal relationship over time and continuity of care, Person-centredness and the Promotion of patient enablement, the Recognition of the specialist skills the GPs have in managing complexity and uncertainty, in diagnosing and in decision making and the need of a Clear definition of roles, responsibilities and limits.
Finally, the Statement on the EU Alcohol Strategy was adopted. UEMO Members strongly support the preventive actions envisioned in the field of alcohol prevention in the EU’s Alcohol Strategy. Particular attention, however, should be directed at alcohol misuse by adolescents and young people, as alcohol consumption continues to be a growing problem in these age groups. UEMO Members believe that enforcing minimum alcohol pricing, buying, selling and age restrictions could be an easy and effective method to employ in tackling these challenges.
The next UEMO meeting has been scheduled for 21 – 22 November and will be held in Budapest,Hungary. The different policies adopted will be soon available on the UEMO website.
The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO) is an organization of the most representative national, nongovernmental, independent organisations representing general practitioners in the countries of Europe. Founded in 1967 by the national organisations in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Italy, the Union quickly grew to encompass organisations from all the current Member States ofthe European Union as well as from the countries of the European Free Trade Association and other European countries. The UEMO aims to promote the highest standard of training, practice and patient care within the field of general practice throughout Europe and defend the role of general practitioners in the healthcare system.