Civic societies and patient organizations together with Members of the EU Parliament
to strengthen the protection of patients’ rights in the European framework
The idea to encourage a MEPs informal Interest Group focused on patients’ rights is linked to the widespread request of more than 80 civic and patient organizations sent to the EU Parliament to recognize officially the value of citizens’ initiatives, such us the European Charter of Patients’ Rights based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the European Patients’ Rights Day, which has been organized every year on April 18th since 2007 at local, national and EU level.
A request launched last May 2015 at the European Parliament during the IX Edition of the European Patients’ Rights Day, and already included in the “Report on safer healthcare in Europe: improving patient safety and fighting antimicrobial resistance (2014/2207(INI))", approved unanimously on 16th April 2015 by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee first, and then in plenary by the European Parliament in second half of May 2015.
Why the MEPs Interest Group “European Patients' Rights and Cross-border Healthcare”?
- 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.
Over the years, EU Commission as well as civic and patient organization have developed several European assessments in order to produce information on the actual implementation of patients’ rights at EU level. In general, 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.
- Across Europe, the sustainability of healthcare systems is a common good to be safeguarded, so a common challenge for different actors: Institutions at EU and national level, professionals, companies, providers, citizens and patients.
Civic and patients organizations, as well as MEPs, are worried about how to find this goal: the risk of not involving citizens, patients and their associations, will lead patients' rights and its protection not being taken into consideration. Or just stated in law and affirmed in theory but not denied in practice. 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 new MEPs Interest Group “European Patients' Rights and Cross-border Healthcare” 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.
The Commission noted back in 2012 that patient safety was being undermined by austerity measures entailing across-the-board cuts in health services and directly affecting the quality of care: such a situation is truly intolerable.
- To mobilize all efforts to build enabling environment for citizens' and patients' organizations in the European health policy.
Increasing cooperation among EU Institutions and citizens and patients organizations, the MEPs Interest Group could 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.
- To contribute to strengthen an European citizenship, putting in practice the benefits the EU brings to patients
In order to overcome the economic and political crisis and avoid a drift which might turn the dream of a united Europe into a nightmare, it is necessary that all parties involved endeavor to reach a balance between a European Union which requires to keep public finances in order through antisocial policies, apparently more attentive to concerns of a financial nature than to the worries regarding the real economy, and a society requiring that adequate levels of protection of rights be guaranteed together with social justice, development and promotion of active citizenship. To reach the final goal of an European citizenship, we need a common platforms of rights, in which all citizens can recognize, and a greater civic participation. For the new European Parliament, the commitment in these fields 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.
Read the official presentation of the Meps Interest Group