As an EU citizen, one can expect a series of benefits in the healthcare field: a high level of health protection; the right to benefit from medical treatment; access to healthcare; and preventive, diagnostic and curative treatment regardless of financial means, gender or nationality, among many others. These principles are enshrined in the European Union's Treaty and its Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the EU institutions are bound to them in their actions.
On European Patients' Rights Day (EPRD), let's take a look at some of the benefits of being a patient in the European Union, as underlined by the EU Commission.
The European institutions have shown great attention and support to the European Patients' Rights Day, whose European celebration organized by Cittadinanzattiva/Active Citizenship Network has always been hosted in Brussels by the European Economic and Social Committee rather than by the European Parliament, which has always provided its own delegation of MEPs. For its part, the European Commission never failed to remind us through its official communication channels (press releases, Health-EU Newsletter, social media/twitter) of its attention, always participating with its own senior officials, sometimes with the Director General if not directly with the European Commissioner for Health, in presence or by video-message.
For more information on what has been done by Active Citizenship Network across the years in occasion of the official celebration of the European Patients’ Rights Day, please visit this page and look at the photo galleries on Active Citizenship Network’s official Facebook page.
The European Patients’ Rights Day was launched in 2007 in order to improve in Europe and in each Member State the principles stated in the European Charter of Patients’ Rights. To read more about it, visit the dedicated section on our website here. To have a look at some examples of the hundred local/national celebrations of the EPRD carried out all around Europe, click here, as evidence of how the European Patients’ Rights Day has become a fixed cultural appointment.
A fundamental innovative aspect is that the events are driven by citizens and patients’ organizations providing a civic perspective and recognizing citizens not only as “users or consumers” of health services or “patients” with specific diseases, but rather as essential stakeholders concerned with the sustainability, safety and quality of healthcare.
Below are some examples of the official editions of the European Patients' Rights Day organized by Active Citizenship Network and recognized and endorsed by the EU Commission, as evidence of how the European Patients' Rights Day has now entered the European political agenda.
The EPRD has many times been hosted in the Health-EU Newsletters of the EU Commission. Below the newsletter issues of the various years can be accessed:
In occasion of the 16th Edition of the European Patients’ Rights Day, held online on 20-21 April 2022, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides produced a video message focused onhope and commitment, with patients' needs and rights at heart, for a healthier future.To read the tweet realized by the EU Commission DG Health & Food Safety, please click here. To watch the brief video of the EU Commissioner, click here. To know more about the 2022 EPRD programme,click here.
The highlight of Issue 48 of April 15, 2010 was entirely dedicated to the 4th European Patients' Rights Day, describing it as an annual common occasion to inform, discuss and take action to improve patients’ rights in Europe and in every EU country and discussing about how patients and citizens associations are organizing events throughout Europe to celebrate the 4th EPRD.
In this occasion, the Commission published the Eurobarometer on Patient Safety. The publication of the survey coincided with the European Patients’ Rights Day, which is held on 18th April each year with events taking place around Europe to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding the rights of patients.
Moreover, Active Citizenship Network contributed to the promotion by MEPs of the “Written declaration on the establishment of a European Patients’ Rights Day of 17 September 2010”, a brief declaration with which the European Parliament officially supports the establishment of a European Patients' Rights Day to promote equal access to healthcare and health services and calls on the Commission and the Member States to support initiatives which, in line with the European Patients’ Rights Day, raise awareness about patients' rights. For the download, click here.
Also, on 6 May 2010, John Dalli, Member of the European Commission, was responsible for the Health and Consumer Policy Opening speech at the 4th European Patients' Right Day entitled "Putting citizens at the center of the EU Health Policy" and held at the European Parliament in Brussels. To know more, click here. To download the press release, click here
Issue 33 of April 2, 2009 of the Commission’s Health-EU newsletter publicized the 4th European Patients' Rights Day of April 18th, 2010, emphasizing how much patients’ rights are an increasing concern for EU institutions and stakeholders.
This year, the Commissioner Vassiliou participated in the European Patients' Rights Day. Read here the press release.
Two Resolutions from the European Parliament, respectively the “European Parliament resolution of 15 March 2007 on Community action on the provision of cross-border healthcare”(EN – IT) and the “European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2007 on the impact and consequences of the exclusion of health services from the Directive on services in the internal market”(EN – IT) have called for “the adoption of a European Charter of Patients' Rights on the basis of existing charters in the Member States”.
In addition, the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Patients' rights’ of September 26, 2007, explicitly called on the importance of patients’ rights as outlined by the European Charter of Patients’ Rights as follows: “In 2002, the Active Citizenship Network proposed a European Charter of Patients' Rights. These rights, which are based on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 35), are important in European citizens' dealings with health systems in their respective countries. Despite this, a study carried out by citizens' organisations in 14 EU countries shows that the level of protection of these rights varies greatly from country to country. This calls into question the European Commission's commitment to guarantee all European citizens effective access to health services on the basis of the solidarity principle”. In light of this, “the EESC calls on the European Commission to take initiatives enabling the implementation of a health policy which respects patients' rights, including the establishment of a European Patients' Rights Day”. To know more, click here.
Issue 67 of March 24, 2011 publicized the 5th European Patients’ Rights Day, celebrated on April 11th and 12th, 2011focused on the real conditions and experiences of citizens in matter of healthcare services in Europe.
Issue 89 of May 3, 2012promoted the6th European Patients’ Rights Day, celebrated in Brussels, with a conference entitled "Active Ageing citizens at the center of EU health policy", which took place on May 15th and 16th, 2012. The conference aimed to encourage ageing citizens to enforce their rights as patients and as active citizens in EU countries with the objectives to: show how empowered ageing patients and users can help in meeting the challenges facing the European social model and changing demography; how they can minimize the risk of diseases leading to social exclusion; and promoting a broader alliance between citizens’ and patients’ organizations and with other health professionals, health institutions and healthcare structures.
To read more about the conference, please click here.
Issue 110 of May 28, 2013 on the 7th European Patients' Rights Day, celebrated on May 15th, 2013, introduced the document “Ten benefits the EU brings to patients”, written by the European Commission on the occasion of European Patients' Rights Day in order to take a look at some of the benefits of being a patient in the European Union. Click here to read the EU Commission’s 2013 press release, for the download click here
Issue 129 of May 8, 2014& Issue 130 of the Health-EU newsletter of May 22, 2014 celebrated the 8th European Patients' Rights Day, which took place in May 12th, 2014. Click here to read the EU Commission’s 2014 press release, for the download click here.
On the occasion of the 8th EPRD, not only did the EU Commission draft a newsletter to emphasize how the event was an opportunity for national and EU associations working in chronic diseases to share experiences and enhance their collaboration, but the European Commissioner Tonio Borg also produced a video message for the occasion. The Commissioner personally spoke about the European Patients’ Rights Day, describing it as a reminder that both national and European health policies need to deliver for patients, with patients and all health policy makers need to ensure that patients remain at the heart of our decisions and policies. Moreover, he proceeded in highlighting the important role of patients’ organisations and stating that although there is no consensus among EU countries about patient empowerment, it must beensured they are fully informed and in control of their own health care.
To watch the video message click here and to read the speech of the EU Commissioner Tonio Borg, please click here. To read the official press release, click here.
Issue 153 of May 29, 2015, on the occasion of the 9th European Patients' Rights Day, held on May 12th, 2015, released a new factsheet on the “Ten benefits the EU brings to patients”.
EU Commission’s Twitter post dedicated to the factsheet titled “Ten benefits the EU brings to patients”.
Moreover, on this occasion, the European Parliament drafted the “Resolution of 19 May 2015 on safer healthcare in Europe: improving patient safety and fighting antimicrobial resistance”. The document recognizes the value of citizens’ initiatives, such as the European Charter of Patients’ Rights and the European Patients’ Rights Day and invites the Commission and the Member States to support the European Patients’ Rights Day at local, national and EU level. For the download, click here.
The 2016 European conference of the 10thEuropean Patients’ Rights Day focused on the fight against waste and inefficiency in healthcare systems in Europe and on the best practices to increase the efficacy and the quality of patient care. For the occasion, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety attended the event.
On the left is Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Security and on the right is the EU Commissioner together with Antonio Gaudioso, Secretary General of Cittadinanzattiva (left), and Mariano Votta, Director of Active Citizenship Network (right).
In occasion of the 11th European Patients’ Rights Day, held on May 10th, 2017 in Brussels, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukatis produced a video message to demonstrate its support and commitment to the annual celebration.
To watch the video message, please click here.
Also on this occasion, the European Parliament drafted the "Resolution of 2 March 2017 on EU options for improving access to medicines”. The document recognizes the value of citizens’ initiatives, such as the European Charter of Patients’ Rights and the European Patients’ Rights Day and invites the Commission to institutionalize the European Patients’ Rights Day at local, national and EU level. For the download, click here.
As for the previous here, also in occasion of the 12th European Patients’ Rights Day, held on May 23rd, 2017 in Brussels, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukatis produced a video message to demonstrate its support and commitment to the annual celebration.
To watch the video message, please click here.