77. The Commission is also sponsoring further research.
On 9 March 2006, an international group (including Dr Keevil)
representing the European radiology, medical physics and MRI communities
met with Commissioner Spidla and Mr Biosca de Sagastuy in Brussels.
The delegation argued for the exclusion of MRI from the Directive.
Commissioner Spidla said that he was open to re-evaluation but
only if there was clear evidence that the Directive would restrict
the use of MRI so as to reduce patient benefits and limit the
evolution of the discipline. It was agreed that a working group
of representatives of the radiology and scientific communities
and Commission representatives be formed in order to measure the
exposure levels produced using current equipment and test the
claims of the medical community.
Some members of the HSE working group are expected to serve on
this group. The group was due to meet for the first time in June
2006. The mandate of the group, Mr Biosca de Sagastuy told us,
was "not to propose amendments to the regulations" but
it could "make recommendations" for the Commission to
consider. No deadline
has been set for concluding its work. Mr Biosca de Sagastuy clearly
was of the view that there was no evidence that could persuade
him of any need to amend the Directive because "the scientific
community says no".
He also believed that, even if the group were to recommend any
changes, these could not be implemented before the Directive is
due to come into force in 2008. The Director-General of the Directorate
preferred not to speculate on the conclusions of this work: the
question of modification of the Directive remained "a hypothetical
were not convinced by the commitment shown at the Commission to
the re-opening of discussions, if necessary, on a Directive that
had so recently been agreed by Member States.
78. We welcome the establishment of the joint
working group by the Commission to examine new evidence and hope
that it is a genuine attempt to inform the implementation of the
Directive rather than simply a device to mollify the critics.
We urge the UK Government to ensure that this work is well informed
by the further research in the UK, and is completed in time for
decisions on the implementation or amendment of the Directive
to be taken before April 2008. If new research demonstrates a
clear need for the Directive to be amended, for example to exclude
MRI from its scope, the UK Government should seek this solution,
rather than relying on non-enforcement. At the very least, the
Government should press for a full impact assessment when the
Directive is reviewed in 2009.