Last 26th of September 2007, the European Economic and Social Committee approved an Opinion on Patient’s rights (2008/C 10/18) calling on the European Commission to establish a European Patients' Rights Day, as Cittadinanzattiva-Active Citizenship Network asked since the first celebration at the EU level of the European Patients’ Right Day.
Why should the European Patients’ Rights Day be Institutionalized?
- Across Europe, the sustainability of healthcare systems is a common good to be safeguarded. We are worried about how to find this goal, without the involvement of citizens, patients and their associations, with the consequence that the protection of patients' rights could not be taken into consideration. Indeed, the economic crisis has a direct impact on healthcare access, especially for the vulnerable population, which are exposed to social exclusion, increased private costs or giving up altogether medical care.
Faced with this scenario, 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.
- EU Institutions and Member States are addressing the challenge of patient safety. We believe that the patient safety is also closely related to the patients’ awareness of their rights. The reinforcement of patients’ rights will become effective only with the cooperation and commitment of all healthcare stakeholders at the EU level and in every EU country. It is thus essential to increase awareness regarding the importance of patients’ rights and everyone’s responsibilities in guaranteeing their respect. 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, every year on the same date, the European Patients’ Rights Day at the local, national and EU level.
- Each European Day is a bearer of rich stories and experiences, with a message towards the future. The institutionalization of a European Patients’ Rights Day (not particularly related with a specific diseases, age, gender etc.), unites and recognizes the daily activities of thousands of organizations and hundreds of citizens, volunteers and professionals deeply involved to improve the quality of patients’ life and the protection of their rights. The institutionalization of the European Patients’ Rights Day enforces this civic activism as an essential resource for the health systems in each country.
- The European Patients’ Rights Day has been celebrated for nine years, an initiative created by civic associations and already included in the European political agenda. So, 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.
- The European Patients’ Rights Day was established on 18 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 a number of patients’ rights that must be recognised and respected in every place and nation all around Europe. These rights are drafted in the European Charter of Patients' Rights, written in 2002 by civic and patient associations from 12 European countries. The European Charter of Patients' Rights states 14 patients' rights that together 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 14 rights are an embodiment of fundamental rights and, as such, they must be recognized and respected in every country. They are correlated with duties and responsibilities that both citizens and healthcare stakeholders have to assume. The Charter applies to all individuals, recognizing the fact that differences, such as age, gender, religion, socio-economic status etc., may influence individual healthcare needs.
For all the previous reasons, the institutionalization of the European Patients’ Rights Day has an implicit message linked to the commitment of the European Institutions in order to effectively apply the principles and rights established of the European Charter of Patients' Rights.
- Talking about the officially recognized European Days, if the previous European Parliament at the end of its mandate established the European Ice-cream Day (on 5 July 2012), 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.