Time for General Practitioners to have full professional recognition

Written by Dr Aldo Lupo on 18 January 2019 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

The important role that GPs play in Europe’s healthcare systems needs to be recognised at EU level, argues Aldo Lupo

Photo Credit: UEMO


With 2019 marking the new Romanian mandate for the European Union of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (UEMO), we wanted to look back and assess the achievements of our Italian Presidency during the past four years.

In 2015, the first year of our mandate, we joined the European Medicines Agency as a healthcare professional organisation, getting involved in the work of the agency, endorsed the Davos Declaration on anti-microbial resistance and established relationships with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In the same year, we increased our efforts to gain special recognition for GPs in the EU. Family physicians play a pivotal role in the provision and coordination of primary care and the specialist skills that GPs have in managing complexity and uncertainty, in diagnosing and in decision making have to be recognised. These efforts are at the core of our quest as a medical profession and as an association.


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Thus in the last four years, UEMO supported the recognition of family medicine/general as a medical speciality in a number of countries – however, there is much still to be done, and the struggle continues. We urge national decision makers to boost policies and implement legislation to ensure that the GP profession is recognised as a specialty.

Everyone should have the right to access the specialist services of a family doctor. The next step is to have the professional status of GPs implemented within the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications as a specialty throughout the EU.

In 2017, we were proud to be selected by DG SANTE to become a member of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Network Stakeholder Pool for health providers. Subsequently, we were elected as the official representative of this pillar, representing 11 health.

As such, we increased our contribution and exchanged ideas and the promotion of best practices on a theme that is currently dominating the healthcare domain and will be vital for the future of healthcare.

UEMO was also appointed as a member of the eHealth Stakeholder Group led by DG CONNECT and DG SANTE, where we communicated on the current challenges and opportunities facing eHealth in Europe.  

"In the light of the ever-increasing strain on healthcare systems caused by an ageing population and the rise in the incidence of chronic diseases, generalist doctors surely hold a unique position in contributing to the sustainability of healthcare systems, by providing dedicated primary care"

Overall, the most pressing concerns for eHealthcare practitioners is the gap between technologists/regulators, such as those responsible for developing the relevant IT systems and ensuring their implementation, and the healthcare personnel that will use the technology. Once again, it is up for legislators to ensure a harmonised system with a view to a smooth adoption of these modern techniques by healthcare professionals.

Last year, UEMO contributed to several actions aimed at raising awareness of the importance of higher vaccination rates and we welcomed the European Council Recommendation on Vaccination.

As we see it, delivering accurate information to the public and combating myths and misinformation is a powerful weapon in order to curb the incidence of contagious and often deadly diseases. We continue to uphold the important task of calling for Continuous Medical Education in order to allow European doctors to remain well trained and ensure they keep abreast of the rapid pace of medicine development.

Well-trained doctors are more highly motivated and productive, adding tremendous value to the well-functioning of healthcare systems.

In the light of the ever-increasing strain on healthcare systems caused by an ageing population and the rise in the incidence of chronic diseases, generalist doctors surely hold a unique position in contributing to the sustainability of healthcare systems, by providing dedicated primary care.

UEMO vows to continue being a strong and active player, making its voice heard at EU level on boosting access to medicines, increasing the uptake of vaccination rates in Europe and raising awareness of the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance.

By doing so, UEMO will continue to strengthen its activities in these areas and promote public health and primary care medicine.

About the author

Dr Aldo Lupo was the former President, during its Italian mandate (2015-2018),of the European Union of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (UEMO)

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