On 20 July 1958, the representatives delegated by the professional organisations representing medical specialists of the six member countries of the very new European Community (EEC) convened in Brussels and created the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS). Thanks to the discernment of its founders and through the impetus given by the French gynaecologist Jacques Courtois, first President (1958-1968), and by the Belgian ORL Oscar Godin, Secretary General (1958-1968), UEMS soon established contacts with the concerned authorities of the EEC (notably with J.-P.de Crayencour, former European Commissioner) and defined the basic principles in the field of training of European medical specialists.
European Medical Specialists
UEMS tackled straightaway the problem of quality, trying to obtain from the European Commission and the Member States a high level of training for the future European medical specialists of the Six Common Market countries. This vision of the future resulted in the elaboration of common general criteria, applicable to all specialists wishing to move from one member country to another.
To realise this ambitious objective, UEMS created in 1962 Specialist Sections for each of the main disciplines practiced in the Member States. These groups of experts, made up of representatives of the national associations of the specialty concerned, carried out a considerable workload with the idea of coordinating and harmonising specialist trainings and criteria for the recognition of medical specialists. UEMS and its Sections developed their action in constant cooperation with other European Medical Organisations, such as the Standing Committee of European Doctors.
The first European Directives concerning medical doctors, published only in 1975, were quite largely inspired by the proposals and the surveys presented by UEMS and realised through its Specialist Sections.
ACMT, Advisory Committee On Medical Training
The successive enlargements of the EEC resulted in the need to improve the statements of the ``Doctors` Directive`` that were ready to be published. These also led to important changes in the bodies and composition of UEMS. Moreover, the number of UEMS Sections progressively increased to 37 in October 2004.
Following the entry into force of the ``Doctors` Directive``, the Advisory Committee on Medical Training (ACMT) was set up by the European Commission. This Community body was destined to link European professional medical organisations, universities and national governments with the European Commission.
UEMS was deeply involved in the consultations launched by this body: UEMS Sections took part in consultations launched in 1980 and 1981. Each Section reported on its conceptions and proposals with regard to the evolution of the specialty. This consultation was organised at the initiative of Dr Pierre Pouyaud (F), President of UEMS and ACMT (1968-1982), and Dr. Guy Des Marez (B), Secretary-General of UEMS (1980-1990), led to the publication of the second and third Reports on the training of medical specialists.
As from 1990, UEMS created European Boards as working groups of Specialist Sections, in order to guarantee optimal care by bringing the training of medical specialists to the highest level possible. In this framework, European Charters were elaborated on various issues such as the training of medical specialists, the quality in specialist medicine or the autonomy of practice of medical specialists.
Specialist Medical Care
In 1999, the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACCME) was set up by UEMS in Vienna and started operating in January 2000. The aim was to harmonise and improve the quality of specialist medical care in Europe through increasing the mobility of health professionals. In the fields of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD), EACCME will pursue this objective by insuring accessibility to quality CME activities and securing European exchange of CME credits for the medical specialists in Europe.
UEMS also showed itself very active in many issues at EU level. These include the consolidation of the ``Doctors` Directive`` into the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. UEMS also followed other European matters such as services in the internal market, the organisation of working time or the safety and mobility of patients.
UEMS Executive Committees since 1958
1958-1968 Dr Jacques COURTOIS (F)
1968-1982 Dr Pierre POUYAUD (F)
1982-1987 Dr Manfredo FANFANI (I)
1987-1993 Dr Alexandre KUTTNER (D)
1993-1999 Dr Leonard HARVEY (GB)
1999-2002 Dr Cillian TWOMEY (IRL)
2002-… Dr Hannu HALILA (FIN)
1958-1968 Dr Oscar GODIN (B)
1968-1979 Dr Hubert DELUNE (B)
1980-1990 Dr Guy DES MAREZ (B)
1990-1999 Dr Robert PEIFFER (B)
1999-2002 Dr Cees LEIBBRANDT (NL)
2002-… Dr Bernard MAILLET (B)
1958-1968 Dr C. VAN NIEUWENHUIZEN (NL)
1968-1980 Dr H. VAN GIFFEN (NL)
1980-1984 Dr H. WINTERS (NL)
1984-1990 Dr A. SIMONS (NL)
1990-1996 Dr Pierre FÉDI (F)
1996-1999 Dr Cees LEIBBRANDT (NL)
1999-… Dr Leonard HARVEY (GB)
1958-1965 Dr Paul MUNDELEER (B)
1965-1968 Dr Hubert DELUNE (B)
1968-1973 Dr Joseph VAN ESPEN (B)
1973-1980 Dr Guy DES MAREZ (B)
1980-1990 Dr Paul ROOSE (B)
1990- 2002 Dr Jean-Claude SCHAACK (L)
2002-… Dr Vincent LAMY (B)