"European Patients’ Rights Day: Make it official!” (11 May 2015)

"European Patients’ Rights Day:  Make it official!

Active Citizenship Network along with 80 civic and patient associations from within and outside the European Union are calling to the new EU Parliament to bring to your attention on the institutionalization of the European Patients’ Rights Day.
The message will be launched in occasion of the IX Edition of the European Patients’ Rights Day, that will take place tomorrow May 12th at the EU Parliament in Brussels (ASP, Room A1E2, from 9.15 to 13.30).
The recognition of Patients’ Rights across the European Union is due to an increasing demand from European citizens and the reinforcement of these rights will become effective only with the cooperation and commitment of all the stakeholders in each EU country. Thus it is essential to increase awareness regarding the importance of patients’ rights and everyone’s responsibilities in guaranteeing their respect.

We believe that celebrating a European Patients’ Rights Day every year in all EU Member States would greatly contribute to this goal. This would be an excellent opportunity and an occasion to inform, discuss and make commitments to improve patients’ rights, which are included in the European Charter of Patients’ Rights , in Europe and in each Member State.
For this reason, Active Citizenship Network together with a large number of patient and civic organizations and relevant stakeholders across the European Union, has taken the initiative to organize since 2007 the European Patients’ Rights Day with events in more than 100 cities in 28 EU countries.
A fundamental innovative aspect is that the events are driven by citizens' and patients' organizations. They provide a civic perspective, put and recognize citizens at the centre of health policies, not only as “users or consumers” of health services or “patients” with a specific disease, but rather active citizens participating in healthcare policymaking as essential stakeholders concerned with the sustainability, safety and quality of healthcare.
“As citizens and patients of the European Union we call to the new European Parliament to initiate procedures in order to officially recognize 18th April as the official European Patients’ Rights Day. For the new European Parliament this could be a clear signal to send to the European citizens and patients that the European Institutions are closer to their needs and ready to protect their rights” said Antonio Gaudioso, Secretary General of Cittadinanzattiva, the Italian NGO that leads Active Citizenship Network.
“Over the years, Active Citizenship Network has developed several European assessments  in order to produce information on the actual implementation of patients’ rights at EU level. In 20 Countries, the level of awareness regarding the 14 rights mentioned in the European Charter of Patients’ Rights is generally unacceptable. The negative evaluation was also confirmed with the assessment realized in 2014 regarding the “Right to avoid unnecessary suffering and pain” (one of the rights in the European Charter of Patients’ Rights), used to make visible the condition of patients suffering with chronic disease and chronic pain. These negative results send a precise signal to the civic world and to the European institutions about the work that still needs to be done: it is a difficult challenge which needs to be faced as a joint effort”.

Six reasons to institutionalize the European Patients’ Rights Day

  1. The institutionalization of the European Patients' Rights Day  could represent an effective message of the European Institutions’ commitment that any action towards a sustainable healthcare system should be done by putting patients’ rights at the forefront.
  2. The patient safety is also closely related to the patients’ awareness of their rights. To contribute to this goal, the EU Parliament could welcome and recognize the value of the European Patients’  Rights Day, and so, to invite the EU Commission and Member States to support the citizens’ and patients’ organizations throughout Europe in celebrating it every year.
  3. The institutionalization recognizes and enforces the civic activism involved  to improve the quality of patients’ life and the protection of their rights as an essential resource for the health systems in each country.
  4. The request to institutionalize the European Patients’ Rights Day, does not mean to create it, but rather to officially recognize it by the European Institution. In doing so, the European Institutions would show their support to civil societies’ initiative, a message which is relevant nowadays as there is a growing gap between the EU Institutions and the citizens.
  5. The European Patients’ Rights Day was established on 18th April 2007 at the European Parliament and is celebrated every year at the local, national and European level. The reason of its birth, is the need to highlight 14 patients’ rights drafted in the European Charter of Patients' Rights, which aim to guarantee a "high level of human health protection" (Article 35 of the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union) and to assure the high quality of services provided by the various national health services in Europe. The institutionalization has an implicit message linked to the commitment of the European Institutions in order to effectively apply the principles and rights established in the European Charter of Patients' Rights.
  6. The current European Parliament could be remembered for having established one year after its inauguration the European Patients' Rights Day. From our point of view, this is one more reason to embrace this initiative, of which the European branch of Cittadinanzattiva, Active Citizenship Network, is proud to have promoted since 2007 through the involvement of many associations and the management of events at the local, national and European level.

The list of the first 80 organizations which support the institutionalization of the European Patients’ Rights Day is available on this link: www.activecitizenship.net/primo-piano/173-support-the-european-patients-rights-day.html.

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