An introduction to HPCB

Healthcare Professionals Crossing Borders is an informal partnership of professional healthcare regulators from within Europe working collaboratively on a range of regulatory issues.

The purpose is to contribute to patient safety in Europe through effective regulatory collaboration in the context of cross-border healthcare and free movement of healthcare professionals.

The initiative was established in the context of several regulatory developments:

  • increasing levels of mobility in Europe by health professionals;
  • the need for regulators to maintain patient safety while supporting increasing professional mobility within Europe; and
  • preparation for the coming into force (in October 2007) of Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications, that contains requirements for increased administrative cooperation between regulatory authorities in the EU.

Since December 2005 the General Medical Council in the UK has provided the Secretariat for the initiative.

How HPCB began

‘Crossing Borders’ began as an EU-wide conference event on regulatory information exchange during the Dutch Presidency of the European Union in 2004.

The Department of Health in England followed this, during the UK Presidency of the EU in 2005, by establishing an informal partnership of healthcare regulators from throughout Europe and hosting the European Regulators’ Consensus Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

HPCB Agreements

At the October 2005 European Regulators' Consensus Conference, professional healthcare regulators from across Europe established the founding principles of ‘Crossing Borders’, as set out in the Edinburgh Agreement. The Agreement set out a two-year plan of action for European collaboration on information exchange between professional healthcare regulators.

Following the implementation of the Edinburgh Agreement, that took place throughout 2006 and 2007, regulators were keen to continue collaborating and developed a new programme of work – known as the Portugal Agreement. This new Agreement was established during the Portuguese Presidency of the EU October 2007.

The Portugal Agreement provides an informal framework for European regulatory collaboration and will be implemented throughout 2007 to 2009.

It focuses on three key strands of activity:

  • identifying shared principles of regulation;
  • transparent and accessible healthcare regulation; and
  • competence assurance of European healthcare professionals.