The European Society
of Human Genetics

Genetics as Medical Specialty

Genetics as Medical Specialty in Europe

Details of staffing of Clinical Genetics units across twelve European countries   

The graphs shown illustrate staffing levels in Clinical Genetics units in several European countries.

Figure 1 details the number of Whole time equivalent Clinical Genetic Consultants per country.
Staff numbers shown include those working solely in Clinical Genetics in the public sector only. We have corrected for whole time staff numbers only. Where consultants had clinical & research sessions we have included the clinical sessions. As Clinical genetics is a speciality that has evolved in different ways across Europe, these figures are a best estimate of current staffing. For example in some countries, only a Doctor can see patients and so there are no Genetic counsellors employed (Czech republic,  and Bulgaria). Some countries have a large volume of Geneticists working in the private sector (Czech republic) but these clinicians have not been included in the figures presented here. In France there are a significant number of clinicians who are specialists in one speciality but provide Genetic counselling for limited genetic conditions, their numbers are not included in this graph.  

Figure 2 details the number of Whole time equivalent Clinical Genetic staff including  Consultants, Trainee Doctors in Clinical genetics & Genetic counsellors/health care professionals per country. Staff numbers shown include those working solely in Clinical Genetics in the public sector only. We have corrected for whole time staff numbers only.  We have only counted fully qualified Genetic counsellors and have not included “family history” takers in the Genetic counsellor figures.  

Figure 3 This figure is the same as Figure 2 but includes government sponsored research sessions.  

The data we collected from the clinicians listed below included:
a) the population of each country  
b) the live birth rate  
c) how many publically funded Clinical geneticists (whole time equivalents) were working in their country? 
d) the number of Doctors in training to be consultants in Clinical Genetics.   
e) the number of fully qualified genetic counsellors- non medics, either nursing background or science background who see patients to discuss risks . 

Contributors to the European staffing table
Sally Ann Lynch  Rep of Ireland
Milan Macek  Czech data
Gunnar Houge for Norwegian data
Helena Kaarinen for Finnish data
Stanislas Lyonnet for French data
Carol Gardiner for Scottish data
Alex Murray for Welsh data
Kay Metcalfe for English data
Fiona Stewart for Northern Ireiand data
Jorge Sequeiros for Portugese data
Mark Longmuir for UK Genetic counsellor figures
Netherlands [courtesy of Marleen Kets]
Bulgaria [courtesy of Veselina Gadancheva].

Clinical/medical genetics officially recognised as an EU- wide specialty!

Dear Colleagues,

On March 3rd, 2011 the Commission adopted Regulation (EU) No 213/2011 amending Annexes II and V to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications. This administrative act implies that the clinical / medical genetics specialty was officially recognised as an EU- wide specialty and this regulation came into force the following day! This regulation is also relevant for the EEA countries and will be important in the near future for many EU-Accession countries, thereby potentially reaching a European-wide relevance.

The ESHG would like to sincerely thank all collaborators and stakeholders who had worked in the past within the administratively and politically demanding recognition process, notably the Presidents and/or representatives of respective European national human / medical / clinical genetics societies, without whom this marvellous achievement would not have been possible! The ESHG is particular pleased that this successful Europe-wide initiative reflects the strength, dedication and the genuine team spirit of European genetics. The facilitating role of the European Union of Medical Specialists in the development of consensus curriculum for clinical / medical genetics is also gratefully acknowledged. The broad scale of such trans-national collaboration is documented at the "Genetics as a Medical Specialty in Europe“ section of the ESHG website.

The ESHG would also like to encourage all stakeholders to proactively inform about the newly achieved status of clinical / medical genetics their national medical associations, medical chambers and/or respective competent government authorities which are instrumental in the process of recognition of individual qualifications for cross-border provision of health-care, whereby rare diseases (hence predominantly genetic disorders) duly recently received a prominent status (See the Directive on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare and the Press release on the Council Adoption).

However, there are still significant challenges in front of us in that we need to achieve the same status also for laboratory genetics specialty and for genetic nurses / counsellors. There has been positive progress (e.g. regarding the development of a template for consensus curriculum for the laboratory genetics specialty) and such updates will be presented at the ESHG 2011 conference in Amsterdam. The ESHG wants to stress, as it had repeatedly done so in the past, that it acknowledges that these specialties are as important as clinical / medical genetics and that these constitute integral components of comprehensive provision of genetic services. Recognition of clinical / medical genetics specialty was thus not "prioritised“ in any way, rather we utilised an unique momentum provided by the "EU Council Recommendation on an action in the field rare diseases" (adopted in June 2009), which is predominantly pertinent to the provision of clinical / medical genetic services. Moreover, the concurrent establishment of the UEMS consensus curriculum for clinical / medical genetics (adopted in April 2009) enabled us to follow the current (albeit cumbersome) EC DG Internal Market and Services procedure for trans-national recognition of medical specialties. Another important moment was the fact that from the political perspective rare diseases had belonged to core topics of Autumn 2008 French and of the Spring 2009 Czech EU Council Presidencies. Thus, simultaneous recognition of medical oncology together with clinical / medical genetics underscores the relevance of these specialties for the field of rare diseases.

The Commission have recently recognised the arduous tasks particularly related to the recognition of non-medical specialties, which we have faced and that substantially hampered our desire for a more rapid progress in the EU-wide recognition of the two "remaining“ genetics specialties. Development of consensus curricula at the transnational level is very difficult in the absence of "UEMS-like“ bodies and certain national regulatory measures have proved to be almost insurmountable, if the current DG Internal Market and Services recognition procedures were still to be applied. We are grateful that the Commission became aware of these general administrative obstacles and that they launched the "Public Consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive". The ESHG endorses the proposed simplification of the trans-national recognition procedures, a move which will also markedly facilitate EU-wide recognition of the laboratory specialty and of genetic nurses / counsellors. All relevant stakeholders are therefore encouraged to send their positive endorsements to this commendable Commission initiative by the deadline of March 15/2011.

Milan Macek Jr.
President of the ESHG

Joint supportive petition

During the European Human Genetics Conference in Vienna on May 25, 2009, the vast majority of the attendees of the 5th Meeting of the Presidents of the National Human Genetics Societies signed a joint supportive petition to include Clinical-/Medical Genetics into Directive 2005 / 36 / EC, and endorsed the UEMS consensus curriculum "Description of Clinical Genetics as a medical specialty in the EU: Aims and  objectives  for specialist training", which was adopted  on April 25, 2009.

CountrySupport letters from individual
European medical genetics
professional societies
Endorsement and Legal Dossier -
Postgraduate Curriculum

(in English)
Austria download download
Belgium download
Bulgaria download download
Cyprus download
Czech Republic download download
Denmark download download
Estonia download download
Finland download download
France download download*
Germany download download
Greece download
Hungary download download
Ireland download
Italy download download
Latvia download download
Lithuania download download
Malta download download
The Netherlands download download
Norway download download*
Poland download download
Portugal download download
Romania download download*
Slovakia download download
Slovenia download download
Spain download download
Sweden download download
Switzerland download download DE* - download FR*
United Kingdom download download

* in national language.

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