The practice of dermatology has, over the past 30 years, been distinguished by its transition from the provision of essentially empirical treatments to a practice in which rational therapies, based on enhanced knowledge of the pathogenesis of disease, are administered. Coincidentally, the boundaries between organ specific specialities such as our own have become blurred. Thus there is now great overlap with numerous other medical disciplines. These include: oncology, immunology / allergology, plastic surgery, oral medicine and, increasingly rheumatology and other disciplines in which management of chronic inflammatory disease plays an important role. Recent changes in European medical regulatory systems and healthcare delivery systems, budgetary constraints and the increasing influence of these and other third parties (for example the media and the internet) on the practice of medicine provide both opportunities and threats to the development of our profession. Driven by the need to provide better care for our patients, it is imperative that the dermatology profession identifies possible future scenarios for the practice and development of the speciality and implements strategies and programmes with optimum cost benefit for healthcare providers across all European countries.
Recognising the need to address these issues, seven academic dermatologists, all heads of university departments, formed the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) in 1997 as a non-profit professional organisation dedicated to improving the healthcare needs of dermatology patients in Europe. At its inception the EDF published a document setting out its mission and this continues to remain at the core of its activities.
The specific aims of the EDF are as follows:
1| To define the necessary competencies and boundaries of dermatology and dermatovenereology professionals and the services they offer.
2| To improve knowledge concerning the scientific basis of skin and its diseases so that the medical community, government organisations, healthcare providers, patients and society in general may be better informed.
3| To promote the highest possible standards in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases.
4| To develop and maintain high quality in dermatology teaching and training programmes.
5| To provide independent advice and facilitate communication between dermatologists and European organisations concerned with improving the quality of skin care including industry, academia, government, patient organisations and society.