David Byrne

Former EU Health Commissioner and Patron of Health First Europe

David Byrne began his career as a barrister in Ireland in 1970, became Attorney General of
Ireland in 1997, and was appointed the first European Commissioner for Health and Consumer
Protection from 1999 to 2004.

Since retiring from membership of the EU Commission, Mr. Byrne acted as Special Envoy to the
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) on a project to amend the
International Health Regulations dealing with the monitoring, surveillance and response to global
communicable diseases such as SARS and Avian influenza. These regulations were adopted by
the World Health Assembly in May 2005 and are the second of the two global health treaties
sponsored by the WHO.

He has also agreed to take up various advisory roles in health, including;

  • Chair of the Ethics Review Committee of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) WHO, Lyons.
  • Patron of Health First Europe (HFE), Brussels.
  • Chair Cardiovascular Research Institute, Trinity College, Dublin
  • Member Advisory Board Royal College of Physicians, London.

He is currently a non executive director of Irish Life and Permanent Plc. and Kingspan Plc.
Chair, Board of the National Concert Hall, Dublin

1 blog from the author

Access Value

Posted on 24.05.2012

The safety of patients: what role for the EU?

The current situation for patient safety is alarming in Member States. It is estimated that 37,000 deaths occur in Europe each year from preventable infections acquired while receiving treatment. Yet, this figure published by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), could very well be a low estimate as Member States differ in their measurements of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), often in how frequently data is collected, for which infections data is collected and how data on infections is reported. This is of particular importance because when we talk about patient safety, we often do not have comparable information to really understand what the state of patient safety in Europe truly is. That is to say, we do not always know which healthcare settings are safe when we seek care.

By David Byrne Former EU Health Commissioner and Patron of Health First Europe