The adoption of harmonisation laws has made it possible to remove obstacles created by national provisions by making them inapplicable and to establish common rules aimed at guaranteeing both free circulation of goods and products and respect for other EC Treaty objectives, such as protection of the environment and of consumers, competition, etc.
If an applicant’s qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 5.3.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. To this end, one of the persons who applied to the Council to be able to establish his profession in Malta, Philip Tucker, certainly possessed at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23) – in fact he has many more years of experience – nevertheless his application was still rejected by the Maltese Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine. There were other applicants and each one of them was rejected. All this occurred while one of the European Union’s ‘desiderata’ is the progressive abolition of restrictions in order to implement Single Market policies.
In some Member States of the European Union with regulation of clinical dental technologists, the full scope of practice of denturists, that is to say, access to the public for full and partial dentures, is still an ongoing issue. For instance, in the United Kingdom, clinical dental technologists can only provide full dentures (prostheses) directly to patients, while partial dentures can only be provided through a referral by a dentist. These Member States therefore have limited partial access to patients due to the strong Dentists’ lobby to monopolise all dental services to the public including the provision of removable prostheses. One strategic way of achieving this opposition is the removal of radiographic credits from the denturists’ programme. So strong is the opposition from the Dentists’ lobby that notwithstanding that independent bodies, such as the Nuffield Report and the Office of Fair Trading in the United Kingdom, were recommending full access, the Dentists’ lobby continues to oppose full access. However, what happened in Malta is very hard to emulate: The course of studies for dental technologists at the University of Malta, a Degree course, was a four-year course of studies, with 240 credits. In 2014, in order to satisfy the Dentists’ lobby, the course of studies was curtailed to three years of study, with 180 credits. Important components of the course were chopped off. The Dean of the Faculty, himself a dentist, was only too pleased to deal such a blow to the dental technologists’ aspirations in order to please the Dentists’ lobby.
Several of the written pleadings submitted before this Court made reference to the risk to public health should denturists be allowed direct access to patients. This allegation is pure fiction as denturists do not perform invasive procedures and they neither make any diagnosis, nor do they prescribe medical treatment. Removing a denture instantly removes pain or discomfort. With a headache, you have to lump it, but with a denture you only have to remove it. Where is the risk? People would wish that all problems were as easy to solve as eliminating pain or discomfort by removing a denture from one’s oral cavity.
Does the provision of false limbs constitute a risk to public health? If a lower limb is causing discomfort or pain, the patient has only to withdraw from public view and remove the false limb; the pain is gone and the risk is nil.
Tattooists shoot ink with a powerful needle into the epidermis. That is surely an invasive procedure and it exposes the client to a high risk of infection. Yet there are scores of tattooists working in Malta, and they are a regulated profession and they are licensed to do just so. Chapter 270 of the Laws of Malta, “Control of Tattooing Act” provides that “tattoo” – “means the insertion into the skin of any colouring material designed to leave a permanent mark”; “licence” means “a licence issued under section 6 of this Act”. Subsidiary Legislation 350.23 lays down the “Requirements as to Advertisements, Methods of Advertising and Directions applicable to Tattoo Advertising”. According to requirement 2.5 – “In order to know whether a person is in possession of a valid licence to act as a tattooist, broadcasters should get in touch with the Director of Public Health”. In Malta, tattooists, such as the “Mad Tatter”, “Skin Label Tattoo Parlour”, “Naughty Needles” and “Source of Pleasure”, have been luckier in finding favour with the Maltese Public Health Authorities than Denturists! It is astonishing that the Superintendent of Public Health appears not to know that in the case of qualified denturists there is no risk to public health.