“Reducing waste and inefficiency in healthcare systems and increasing quality of patient care depends on collaboration… It requires active commitment from individual bodies, including Member States, European institutions, patients and health professionals”.
The words of the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitiswere the perfect conclusion of the tenth edition of the European Patients' Rights Day (EPRD), held on 4 May 2016in Brussels with the participation of leaders of civic and patient associations of 25 countries, representatives of the European Parliament and of the European Economic and Social Committee, as well as key stakeholders involvedon the topic at international level: European networks, doctors, managers and companies.
Fighting waste and inefficiencies remains commonly known as a primary goalto ensure the sustainability of health systems, as there is still so much to do – both at micro- and macro-level. Indeed – on one hand – there is the necessity to increase the valueof the civic contributions of those who, in their own field of action, identify and denounce any source of waste.In fact, civic reports usually fall through the cracks and, as a result, this precious civic resource is actually “wasted”.
On the other hand, statement of principles aside, a clear common strategy at European level is still missing, as demonstrated by the fact that outstanding examples of excellence are almost unknown outside their countries of implementation. From this perspective,sharing some good practices wasundoubtedly a great merit of theEPRD of this year.
Everyoneshould be committed to reducing waste and inefficiency, no exceptions allowed. Therefore, it is essential to enhance skillsand cultural sensitivity on the topic and overcome the idea thatacting sensibly is always someone else’s responsibility or that itis useless as nothing would change anyway: the good practices presented at the European Parliament have showedexactly the contrary.
The EPRD has allowed, among other things, to share a definition of waste in line with the principlesof the European Charter of Patients'Rights. It was also the occasion to promote at European level the recent works carried out in Italy by the Tribunal for Patients' Rights – a classification of types of waste and inefficiencies in the NHS – and by the CNAMC –diagnostic-therapeutic-assistential paths for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and inflammatory rheumatic diseases, which were first developedfrom patients’ perspective and needs, and then formally approved by the relevant institutions.
Besides, this edition of the EPRD was introduced by an important “prologue”on the afternoon of May 3, when, again, at the European Parliament, a communication campaign focused on cross-border healthcare in 14 EU countrieswas presented to Institutions. The initiative is coordinated by the European network of Cittadinanzattiva, Active Citizenship Network, and aims to raise citizens’ awareness about their rights as well as to create an informal network of associations capable of becoming a point of reference for patients travelling abroad. Moreover, it will facilitate collaboration and exchange of information among the patient organizations themselves and the National Contact Points of each Member State. Indeed, despite of the fact that this collaboration was foreseen, it is still far from being a common practice, posing riskthat - even on this issue - too much time has already been wasted.
Director Active Citizenship Network