The European medical implants scandal

This is interesting:

The Health Secretary has admitted that patients may be at risk in the wake of an undercover investigation by this newspaper and the British Medical Journal.

Today it can be disclosed that unscrupulous medical regulators are also secretly advising some Chinese and Indian firms to market artificial hips and other devices as “made in Europe” to unsuspecting British patients.

A regulatory body in Hungary, authorised to license products for sale in Britain, advised reporters posing as representatives of a Chinese medical firm to use a “front address” in the EU to claim products were manufactured on the continent.

A Turkish regulator, also allowed to license products for the British market, admitted the licensing process was a “money-making business”.

It\’s also, if you want to think about it, rather terrifying.

For the basic assumption of the system is that Mr. Numpty over in Slovenia is competent (and sufficiently honest) to test and regulate medical implants. Which, it would appear, he\’s not really.

But here\’s where it really gets going. This is true of pretty much any form of licensing. Or training. Or qualification. Get an MD from Slovenia and you\’re are fully qualified doctor throughout the EU. Get an electrician\’s certificate ditto. Architect?

A CE rating for an electrical product? Pass food safety rules? Even, would you believe, going to be offered a fair trial? For yes, that\’s what the EU arrest warrant is based upon. The idea that the courts in Poland, Greece, are just as good as our own dear court system in the UK (which, given that the operate off an entirely different system of law is hard to swallow).

Absolutely everything works this way. That the regulators, licensors, testers, educators, examiners, right across Europe are all equal to each other, entirely uncorruptible, honest and hard working.

No, seriously: imagine, go on just imagine, that there was a country within the EU that had a large Mafia component. Hard I know. And that said Mafiosi, the greasing of palms and the payment of bribes, carried through to people gaining, say their certificates as dentists. Our Sicilian who knew who to pay and how much is now licensed to drill your teeth.

As all will know I\’m extreme even by the standards of the eurosceptics. I think the whole thing is a bad idea over and above insisting that Britain should be a part of it.

But there are good reasons why I think so. One of which is that we have this basic assumption: every Johnny Foreigner bureaucrat is just as honest and pure as every one of ours. And no one who has ever worked or lived elsewhere would dream of believing something so damn stupid.

16 thoughts on “The European medical implants scandal”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    The EU is based on the famous joke. When we went in, we were promised that in the European Union the police would be British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it would be all organized by the Swiss. Instead it not only turns out the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German, and it is all organized by the Italians, but that the Cypriots control our border policy and the Slovaks licence medical doctors.

  2. But what’s the alternative? Go back to individual country licensing? We’d lose the efficiency of a single market, meaning there would be fewer products on the shelves.
    This could be supplanted with bilateral recognition of licenses: e.g. Britain allows products or people certified in Germany, but not those certified in Latvia. Now we’re conducting negotiations with 27 countries, not just one EU. Thousands more bureaucrats and civil servants would be needed.

    Which other blogger regularly calls for increases in the number of bureaucrats? Yes that’s right – you’ve finally found an issue on which you and Ritchie agree.

  3. Licences are the problem. They do not protect. They give power and control to the state and those friends of the state who want competition kept down in their particular field/industry.

    Get rid of Licences. If you have to have laws then have one that says that everyone must give an accurate account of their qualifications/studies/time spent experience. Then people can pick and choose what they want. Bits of paper from bureaucrats which can be obtained dishonestly in large parts of the world (and maybe over here too, if truth were known) do not provide any guarantee of anything anyway.

  4. Andrew M: not at all. You just say that if you want to be a dentist in the UK, you have to pass the UK dentists exams. Or electricians exams. Or whatever. Simple. No need for bilateral negotiations. Qualification bodies already exist for every profession/trade in the UK. No new bureaucracy required.

    And if you want to go abroad and work, you’ll have to abide by their rules, whatever they are, up to you to find out. Chances are UK qualifications would be acceptable anyway.

  5. Mr Ecks: while I applaud the libertarian principles, I think if there is a problem with false/illicitly obtained qualifications from official bodies already, its pretty likely that moving to a system of merely stating your career history would be even more open to liars and fraudsters. I mean are you going to contact all the bodies/employers on a dentists career sheet just to check if he’s lying or not? And the same thing every time you use the services of someone who needs to know what they are doing? Going to be a long old process. You wouldn’t have much time for anything else!

  6. “A regulatory body in Hungary, authorised to license products for sale in Britain, advised reporters posing as representatives of a Chinese medical firm to use a “front address” in the EU to claim products were manufactured on the continent.”

    There is nothing shady in this: it is in fact an EU requirement.

    It is not necessary to claim products are manufactured in the EU because whether they are or not, they still need the CE Mark.

    As usual a case of MSM ignorance and inaccurate reporting.

    Under the EU’s EC CE Mark Directive, it is the “person” who first places the product on the market in the EU who is required to get the CE mark – which incidentally is merely certification that the product meets the requirements of the relative EC Directive and is therefore no guarantee of safety or quality.

    This “person” can be anybody, a distributor, an agent or any entity which has a legal, resident status in the EU (ie can be fined or put in gaol) – like a non-active subsidiary.

  7. @Jim ‘…moving to a system of merely stating your career history would be even more open to liars and fraudsters… I mean are you going to contact all the bodies/employers on a dentists career sheet just to check if he’s lying or not? And the same thing every time you use the services of someone who needs to know what they are doing?’

    I do have some sympathy with your position, Jim, but I think (though am happy to be corrected) that the regulation of dentistry in the UK only started in 1921 with the Dentists Act.

    Before that, I assume people said to their neighbours, ‘Are you happy with your dentist?’

    If the answer was, ‘Yes, he’s great’, they used him. If it was, ‘No, he’s a butcher’, they didn’t?

    This process would be 1000 times easier and more efficent now, in the age of the internet and the internal combustion engine/public transport, than it was in 1920.

    I’ve just had an extension built at my house. I asked around people in the village to see who they had used and recommended, got three quotes, went to see stuff built by the one I liked the look of, and hired him.

    OK, in total the whole process took me about two hours, but on an outlay of thousands that’s not an issue.

    I did not use any professional body’s advice, and if I had it simply could not have competed with the advice of people who had put their own money on the line, and the evidence of my own eyes.

    That’s not to say there is no place for regulation: just that (IMO) it is over-used and actually may not be much more than arse-covering/a variant of the old Adam Smith line.

  8. Jim, further to my own comment…

    Before that, I assume people said to their neighbours, ‘Are you happy with your dentist?’
    If the answer was, ‘Yes, he’s great’, they used him. If it was, ‘No, he’s a butcher’, they didn’t?

    … I should have said that this is also, for many people, still the way it works, even with the General Dental Council licensing all dentists.

  9. Slovenia? Your father really should have sent you to Ampleforth.

    Republika Slovenija, usually anglicized as “Slovenia” both exists and is in the EU. It isn’t, of course, Slovakia (or ‘the Slovak Republic’ or Slovenská republika, whichever you prefer).

    Am I missing something?

  10. “If the answer was, ‘Yes, he’s great’, they used him. If it was, ‘No, he’s a butcher’, they didn’t?”

    Bit trickier with a hip implant though eh? It could look like a nice thing when you stick it in and work well for two or three years then you find out they used a crappy acebular cup polymer that has carcinogenic material in it or a dodgy bonding process that makes it fall apart. Obviously it would get traced back to the supplier eventually but in the mean time a few thousand people may be risked.

    In actuality it is somewhat like the “dentist effect” as surgeons and manufacturers have a very close relationship. Certainly in Western Europe you’d have to go along way to convince people to change suppliers, factory tours showing the manufacturing processes. Its not just a question of buying the cheapest

    But the idea of dodgy implants being passed off as legit by a corrupt standards system is pretty worrying when you consider the implications. Possibly you could flog them to less developed countries with the EU quality seal to hospitals that don’t have the resources to verify and close links to the established manufacturers.

  11. @MakajazMonkee ‘Bit trickier with a hip implant though eh?’

    Which is why I said: ‘That’s not to say there is no place for regulation.’

    ‘It could look like a nice thing when you stick it in and work well for two or three years then you find out they used a crappy acebular cup polymer that has carcinogenic material in it or a dodgy bonding process that makes it fall apart. ‘

    But that is broadly what has happened under licensing.

  12. I picked up an Indian takeaway lately.
    Got talking to the owner, the place being a bit quiet (him, me, the cook).
    How’s business?
    Great!
    Here in the restaurant?
    No, this is just for the VAT. The real business is importing Chinese bandages, getting them kite marked and re-exporting them to India as made-in-france, because India doesn’t like China.
    No idea if he was telling the truth but there must be a lot of it about.

  13. You just say that if you want to be a dentist in the UK, you have to pass the UK dentists exams. Or electricians exams. Or whatever. Simple. No need for bilateral negotiations. Qualification bodies already exist for every profession/trade in the UK. No new bureaucracy required.

    Well, except for the fact that a qualified professional seeking work in the UK would need to spend large amounts of time and money on the course in question. Pedantically, there’s no increase in formal UK government bureaucracy – but the increase in deadweight loss and productive time wasted is substantial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *