November 2019

The European Society of Radiology (ESR) warmly welcomes the ambition of Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, a medical doctor herself, to push forward healthcare in the EU policy agenda by appointing a Commissioner for Health with a strong mandate and increased attributions. Stella Kyriakides, a health expert and a long-standing advocate for health prevention, was nominated for the post with a clear mandate to promote public health and deepen collaboration on pressing health challenges in the European Union.

As the umbrella organisation representing the radiology profession in Europe, the ESR was pleased by the many priorities highlighted in the Health Commissioner’s mission letter. Our organisation looks forward to collaborating closely on an ambitious health agenda for Europe, addressing existing and future gaps in healthcare systems. The European Society of Radiology was glad that during the European Parliament hearing, the Commissioner-designate for Health underlined crucial elements that proved an ambition for effective EU action in the field of healthcare. Indeed, Stella Kyriakides highlighted her commitment to the Medical Devices Regulation; her ambition to move the European Data Space forward acknowledging its potential for an increase in patient access to information; and the importance of a holistic approach to the European Beating Cancer Plan including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research, survivorship and palliative care. The ESR also welcomes the emphasis of Commissioner-designate Kyriakides on Health Technology Assessments and the Cross-border healthcare directive which enable innovation as well as greater access and quality of healthcare for patients in the European Union.

The Medical Devices Regulation was designed to enhance the safety of medical devices and therefore the safety of patients. Nevertheless, the European Society of Radiology calls upon Stella Kyriakides to take into consideration various stakeholders’ concerns regarding timely and effective implementation of the new Medical Devices Regulation, due to be implemented on 26 May 2020, as regards both a sufficient number of notified bodies and capacity issues, to ensure the effective availability of devices. 

The ESR views eHealth as a step forward to promote patient-centred care, and for healthcare to pass the test of technological innovation. The digital transition in healthcare entails the need for increased interoperability and standardisation to ensure that digital technologies in the European Union are implemented for the benefit of patients, health professionals, health systems and industry. Our organisation calls upon the new Commissioner for Health to promote increased exchanges of health data, including medical images, for early diagnosis and better research outputs. This would enhance effective disease prevention and accelerated treatment for patients through the creation of the European Health Data Space. Also, the ESR believes that ethics, the respect for data privacy rules and clinical safety in the use of new technologies should be at the forefront in any policy development on Artificial Intelligence.

The ESR warmly welcomes the establishment of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and wishes to highlight the importance of medical imaging as a strong driver to improve cancer prevention, detection and care in each Member State. We believe that Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan should be developed in alignment with the Cancer Mission to pool expertise and rightly identify priority areas which require concerted action at a pan-European level. In order to maximise outcomes, the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan should furthermore serve as a vehicle connecting any forthcoming EU-initiatives in the field of cancer. 

The European Society of Radiology has consistently called not only for an appropriate framework for the Medical Devices Regulation to be consistent with an innovative market and a strengthening of patient safety; it also called for applying full potential of Artificial Intelligence, big data and machine learning for more integrated and person-centred approaches; and for medical imaging to have a key role for cancer screening, detection and early diagnosis.

The ESR looks forward to working together with the Commissioner for Health to implement an ambitious agenda for accessible, affordable and high-quality healthcare across the European Union.