A local MEP has won a key vote in the European Parliament to ensure that medical devices such as breast implants or hip replacements are safer.
Dame Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, led work on the EU’s new Medical Devices Regulation, which was adopted in the European Parliament’s Environment and Health Committee on Wednesday.
The new law will cover everything from the design and manufacture of devices, clinical testing, authorisation and post-market surveillance.
Weaknesses in the current regulation were highlighted by past scandals such as the problems with metal-on-metal hip replacements, which are thought to have affected over 20,000 people in the UK, and the PIP breast implant scandal in 2010, when 47,000 women in the UK discovered they had been given implants containing industrial grade silicon.
Dame Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands and Labour’s European Health Spokesperson said:
“The new law we’ve agreed is wide-ranging and will cover everything from plasters and hospital beds to pacemakers, breast implants and joint replacements.
“I was determined to improve safety for patients. Patients want to be confident that the devices used to treat them, or even implanted in them, are safe and effective and the new measures we have agreed should ensure this.
“The metal-on-metal hip scandal highlighted weaknesses in the current system. So we’ve introduced much stricter requirements for the bodies that authorise medical devices, and will insist that particularly high risk devices, such as implants, joint replacements or insulin pumps, will be subject to additional assessments by experts before they can be authorised.
“Aesthetic devices like cosmetic implants will also be covered by the new rules and we’ve introduced a Unique Device Identification system so we know which patient has which device; this will make it much easier to trace patients if there’s a problem and patients will also be given an implant card with the UDI, which they can use to access information via a publicly accessible database.
“We’ve also agreed a much stronger system of post-market surveillance so that any unexpected problems are identified and dealt with as soon as possible.
“The new legislation is a great example of how working with our European partners can improve safety for everyone. In the single-market, a medical device made in one country can be used anywhere else in the EU so we need to make sure they’re all meeting the same high standards.”
Animal welfare is an EU priority, it is important that we use the force of 28 countries to tackle the abuse of animals and ensure that endangered species are protected.
Trade deals offer an opportunity to demand that animal rights are respected. Many people think that trade deals are only about increasing UK exports and creating new jobs, however they can be used as powerful leverage for promoting important moral values.
Labour MEPs have demanded that the European Commission lead international pressure against Japan over its resumption of whaling, we also refuse to support an EU trade deal with the country unless it ends the cruel practice of whaling.
We must work together to put international pressure on Japan and this includes through trade negotiations. I would like the EU to undertake legal action to ensure Japan complies with the International Court of Justice who issued a ruling ordering the halting of Japan’s annual slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean.
Last November, the Japanese Fisheries Agency notified the International Whaling Commission it would resume whaling under a revised plan. The 12-year plan would allow the killing of 333 minke whales during the 2015-2016 season, and a total of nearly 4,000 whales during the whole 12-year period.
The hunts are in clear breach of international law and undermine the protection of biodiversity and marine ecosystems. The abolition of whaling is a key European value and must be on the table when the EU negotiates a trade deal with the Japanese. No ‘ifs’, no ‘buts’, this barbaric practice has to end.
The EU strictly protects all species of whale, dolphin and porpoise and any incidental capture, killing or sale of whales or whale products by EU countries is prohibited. The EU leads the world in environmental and marine protection, and must send a strong message to Japan that whaling must end.
The world’s oceans are in danger. This is extremely concerning as oceans help to regulate the climate, produce oxygen, feed millions of people and of course are the home to an incredible array of wildlife.
The 8th June is World Ocean’s Day and this year the focus is on plastic pollution, this form of marine litter is particularly harmful as plastic degrades very slowly. This pollution not only affects animals but scientists are also concerned about the side effects on humans through contamination. Bad news for UK fisheries.
Marine pollution is a global issue and one that must be dealt with internationally. The EU strategy to tackle marine litter comes into force this year with key targets to be met by 2020. Each EU country has a responsibility to tackle this issue and work together to protect our seas and oceans.
An urgent concern is micro-plastics, most commonly found in some cosmetic products like body scrubs. These tiny bits of polyester and acrylic are smaller than the head of a pin and UK scientists are very concerned about their effects on British seafood such as mussels, lobsters and oysters.
Alternatives to micro-plastics are available and 25 UK cosmetic companies have pledged to stop using them. However, I would like to see further action being taken. In fact, the European Parliament has voted to phase out or ban the use of micro-plastics in cosmetic products.
The health of our oceans is important for the climate, wildlife and the world’s population. For these reasons, I will continue to support EU action to tackle marine pollution.
Sunday 5th June is World Environment Day with this year’s theme being zero tolerance of illegal wildlife trade.
Thousands of people in the East Midlands write to me every year about the welfare of animals both here in the UK and across the world. It is a topic that I feel very strongly about and one that I am sure many readers are passionate about.
Annually, international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is estimated to be worth billions of pounds and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to products derived from them, including food products, leather goods, timber and medicines.
However, there are some rules in place. The most important global agreement for wildlife trade is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (or CITES), which all EU countries are bound by. In many instances, EU rules already go beyond the provisions of CITES and EU countries can still introduce stricter rules if they wish.
I would like to see tougher rules which is why I supported a European Parliament Resolution on Wildlife Crime that called on EU countries to support a revision to EU law on the import of hunting trophies. It also called for a moratorium on any commercial trade in ivory until wild elephant populations were no longer under threat by poaching.
Labour MEPs are absolutely committed to policies that promote animal welfare and the sustainability of wildlife and we will continue to support legislation that ensures these are protected. Although we would like the current rules to go further, EU wide cooperation is absolutely essential for issues that cross borders, particularly issues that are driven by organised criminals.
Our EU membership guarantees a level of co-operation with our neighbours, and common rules that protect wildlife. It is only be working together that we can truly tackle wildlife crime.