History

The EJD (PWG) was formally created in Bad-Nauheim, Germany, in May 1976 as Permanent Working Group of European Junior Doctors (PWG). Since then, the EJD (PWG) has become the European medical organisation with the most comprehensive national membership, representing over 300.000 Junior Doctors all over Europe. The EJD's (PWG´s) initial objectives include safeguarding the interests of the Junior Doctors in Europe, improving relations between its member organisations and narrowing the gap between the Junior Doctors of the European Union and those of other European countries. Over the last four decades, the EJD (PWG) has actively intervened in defense of the medical profession in Europe with the purpose of contributing to the development of Junior Doctors' work and education and has had an important role as a background group for the organisations of Junior Doctors in countries preparing to join the European Union. From the beginning of the EJD's (PWG´s) existence, it became evident that the Junior Doctors of the various countries have many similar experiences and difficulties. Therefore, after pooling the information and exchanging ideas, the EJD (PWG) was able to identify the main areas of interest to Junior Doctors in Europe.

The status of the medical workforce was one of the most important issues in the EJD's (PWG´s) early years. The EJD (PWG) conducted several studies that drew the medical profession's attention to the fact that this issue is not static and that long-term planning, though difficult, is essential. The different perspectives within the European Union influence the migration of doctors as well as the working conditions, quality of training and quality of patient care. Therefore, the EJD (PWG) has endeavored to gain a better insight of the workforce policy of its member countries in order to, where necessary, influence policy makers by providing examples of more successful planning. Other major areas of interest to Junior Doctors, and to the EJD (PWG), have been temporary migration for educational purposes, postgraduate training, continuing medical education, future medical work and working conditions. In its first years, the EJD (PWG) embarked on the important task of compiling information to facilitate the migration of doctors in training in Europe. The objective of this work was to provide true freedom of movement, in accordance with the principles established by the Medical Directives in 1976. The EJD's (PWG´s) greatest contribution was the publication of a series of booklets containing relevant information for doctors wishing to seek employment or complement their training in a foreign country.

In 1995, at its conference on "Postgraduate Training: a European Future", the EJD (PWG) publicly presented its most recent policy on this issue, which is still a reference for European doctors. This policy statement brings to light a significant number of principles concerning the structure and quality of this phase of medical education, which coincide with several points in one of the most important official documents on this issue, the 4th report of the Advisory Committee on Medical Training (ACMT), published in 1997. In the same year we had the opportunity of disseminating an important new paper on "Future Medical Work", which has proven fully up-to-date. This paper concerns the organisation of work in health services and its influence on the working conditions of Junior Doctors. The greater expectations of patients, allied with factors such as ageing, migration and mobility, have led to a progressive increase in healthcare costs. As a result, most European countries have undermined doctors' working conditions with policies of economic management and redistribution of resources. Our recommendations include concepts such as the creation of a positive workplace, organisational development, project management and other strategies that enhance the structure, process and outcomes of health promotion for patients as well as doctors.

In May 2000, the EJD (PWG) published a policy statement on Continuing Medical Education/Continuous Professional Development (CME/CPD) and organised a conference in which it was possible for experts from various European medical organisations to exchange their views on CME/CPD before an expert audience. We have recently witnessed the publication of several different documents on CME/CPD that generally defend the principles that became evident during the Conference. Fundamentally, the medical profession believes that CME/CPD is both a moral obligation and a right, and that access to appropriate CME/CPD must be ensured for all doctors, including those in training. The EJD's (PWG´s) Policy Statement opposes a system of recertification and states that it is a misconception that such a system would contribute to the identification of unsuitable doctors, hence defending the concept of quality improvement, as opposed to quality control.

The EJD (PWG) was actively involved in finding a solution to the problem that was created when the European Working Time Directive (Directive 93/104/EEC) excluded doctors in training from certain aspects of the organisation of working time. In December 1995, the EJD (PWG), in collaboration with the European Commission, organised a major conference in Brussels to address the issue of Junior Doctors' working conditions. In the year 2000, after an intensive advisory process and many years of intense negotiations with the European authorities, the European Parliament and the European Council finally agreed to include doctors in training within the scope of the European Working Time Directive (Directive 2000/034/EC). The unnecessarily long transition period given by this directive to reach the 48-hour week and several exceptions were the reasons for further action by the EJD (PWG) to convince the European authorities and parliament that these limitations for junior doctors were unacceptable. Finally, after several forums, discussion and demonstrations, with the 2003 Revision of the Working time Directive (Directive 2003/88/EC) a quick progress was made in reaching the 48-hour week. But with the OPT-Out clause that still exists in the Directive, it remains a Backdoor that has to be removed as fast as possible. In 2008 the Parliament stated, as the EJD (PWG), against the OPT-Out clause. Since then the EJD (PWG) actively lobbies, together with other European Medical Organisations, in Brussels, to insist for the situation that the directive is still unconditionally for junior doctors and working hours have to be reduced.

One of our top projects is the EuroMedMobility website. This a joint EJD (PWG) / EMSA project that, among other objectives, aims to improve the mobility of doctors in training within European countries, increasing the diversity in training opportunities for all European medical professionals. And we are working on several other topics, aside the already mentioned, for the benefit of Junior Doctors. For example the development of the European Qualifications Directive, the Bologna Process, task shifting in medicine, harmonisation and improvement of PGT in Europe, ePortfolio, salary and many more.

Curiously, our organisation was founded as the "Permanent Working Group of European Junior Hospital Doctors", which later proved inappropriate because the EJD (PWG) includes doctors in training in non-hospital fields and there was no organised body of Junior Doctors in the field of primary care. Therefore, in 1996, during an important revision of our statutes, by a working group coordinated by Dr. Kirsi Ailus (SF), we dropped the word "hospital" and became the “Permanent Working Group of European Junior Doctors”. In 2011, during the legal registration process, we decide to focus our name more on the persons we represent, so we turned in the “European Junior Doctors Permanent Working Group” – shortened as EJD.

From the beginning, the EJD (PWG) has sought to develop productive relations with various European medical organisations and authorities. We have had formal relations with the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) since 1983 and we were granted consultative status in the Council of Europe in 1986. We also have good relations with the Regional Office of the World Health Organisation, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Since 1991 each UEMS Specialist Section and European Board has welcomed a representative from EJD (PWG) to represent European doctors in training. At the Executive meeting of UEMS in May 2007 it was agreed that EJD (PWG) delegates also are invited to represent doctors in training in UEMS Multidisciplinary Joint Committees. The EJD (PWG) has regular meetings with the most important European medical organisations to coordinate activities and increase efficacy. In November 2000, these organisations approved a protocol governing the relations between them and the CPME. The EJD (PWG) is now a member of a group of institutions that speak with one voice and represent the medical profession in Europe, although it is aware of the fact that it must maintain its independence and capacity of negotiation with the European authorities.

During the first 35 years of the PWG's existence, it has organised numerous plenary Assemblies all over Europe and the rotation of meetings has ensured mutual understanding and the exchange of information.

Since its beginning, in Bad-Nauheim in 1976, the EJD (PWG) has been presided by Dr. Per Vagn-Hansen (DK), the first Coordinating Secretary of the PWG for the 1976-1979 triennium, followed by Dr. Anton Seiler (CH), Douglas Gentleman (UK) and Dr. Hans-Ueli Würsten (CH). Dr. Jesper Poulsen (DK) was the first person to be elected President of the EJD (PWG) from 1994 to 1997, an indication of the positive development of this organisation. Eduardo Marques (P) was the second President of the EJD (PWG) until 2001 and Dr. Nina Tiainen (SF) the third from 2001 to 2005. She was followed by Rui Guimarães (P) in the years 2006 -2009 and Bernardo Bollen Pinto (P) from 2009-2011. After Carsten Mohrhardt (DE), serving from 2011 to 2015 as President and afterwards being the first Past-President of the EJD, since January 2016 Sascha Reiff (MT) is now leading the organisation.

 


Per Vagn-Hansen (DK)
1976-1979


Anton Seiler (CH)
1980-1983


Douglas Gentleman (UK)
1984-1988

Hans-Ueli Würsten (CH)
1989-1992

Jesper Poulsen (DK)
1993-1997

Eduardo Marques (PT)
1997-2000

Nina Tiainen (FI)
2001-2004

Rui Guimarães (PT)
2005-2009

Bernardo Bollen Pinto (PT)
2009-2011

Carsten Mohrhardt (DE)
2011-2015

Sascha Reiff (MT)
2016-
       

 

Many Junior Doctors from all over Europe have had greater or smaller roles in the EJD´s (PWG's) work and some are now accredited leaders in national or European medical organisations. Some non-medical participants, who have witnessed the life of this organisation from the beginning, have generously placed their knowledge on issues of medical policy at our disposal. The Junior Doctors of all European countries now have an influential organisation that defends their interests effectively and, due to the hard and dedicated work of many individuals, we are all proud of its achievements. However, there is always much to be done and we are aware that the structure of our organisation must evolve if we wish to maintain our recognised role and capacity of intervention.

Brussels, January 2015