Dear colleagues, esteemed guests, I welcome you to Romania, in the heart of Transylvania, Cluj.
Family Physicians – as any other physicians- are smart, tough, durable, resourceful people. However, they are the ”canaries” in the health care coalmine, and they are killing themselves at alarming rates (twice that of active duty military members) signaling something is desperately wrong with the system. The culture of medicine values all doctors, but it values doctors who deliver immediate and visible results the most. The lives saved by primary care physicians are more statistical than visible. If a patient lives until his nineties, no one can be sure whether he would develop cancer without the work of his GP. By contrast, when a general surgeon successfully removes a large tumor, the patient knows exactly who saved him. Physicians must be treated with respect, autonomy, and giving them the authority to make rational, safe, evidence-based, and financially responsible decisions.
Primary care is by far the most significant variable related to better health status, correlating with lower mortality, fewer deaths from heart disease and cancer, and a host of other beneficial health outcomes. Adding 10 primary care physicians has a 250% greater influence on life expectancy than an equivalent increase in specialists.
The Romanian team took over the UEMO`s Presidency for the next four years, but the philosophy and the way of working of the Italian past Presidency will be continued.
UEMO, a 51-year old organization may not be reformed as quickly as some of us would like it, but on the other hand, as it is said, there is only one good reason to change something and one hundred reasons to not do it. We need a reform through evolution, adapted to the times we are living, and not a revolution.
More efficiency: The need for Task forces assisting the Working Groups and the restructuration of their activities, comes mainly from the UEMO status of stakeholder in Joint Action groups of the EC; now there are important topics such as HTA, eHealth, Obesity, EMA, AMR, Personalized medicine, Single Digital Market, Vaccination hesitation, the Recognition of the specialty. To have a significant voice at European level, our position as stakeholder is vital, especially in those subjects considered by us as priorities or active dossiers, in which we have or will have policies. Obviously, UEMO representation is hard and time-consuming, energy-intensive, requires a learning-curve to reach the level of information, and our problem is the lack of people. That is why we have to keep our representatives in key positions, whether or not they are members of the Board.
More equity: any European country, irrespective of its size and the number of General Practitioners, should be able to get to the level of UEMO`s leadership without having the financial burden of supporting an administrative apparatus that now can be managed only by some countries. A reform of the UEMO’s financial strategy is necessary.
Without discrimination for our specialty: recognition of our specialty at European level is a vital issue in terms of the objective to be recognized as a specialty equal to other specialties.
We believe that our categorization as physicians with specific training in general medical practice is not only outdated, but currently is an indirect discrimination. Our patients would prefer to be consulted by a specialist in Family Medicine and not by a qualified generalist, and it is the right of patients to receive the same healthcare throughout the European Union offered by a recognized specialty.
General Practice looks like a specialty, behaves like a specialty, has all the attributes of a specialty, and should be recognised as such at European level.
More collaboration: it is necessary to develop the relationships already established with CPME, WONCA, UEMS and others EMOs. We are not competitive with other European Medical Organizations, but complementary with them.
More communication: we need to communicate more and especially better within the organization. The liaison between the Board and the delegates must also work during the periods between the GAs. We will use inclusive the resources offered by social media.
As a vital principle, all of our members are valuable.
I wish success to the works of the General Assembly.