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EPF response to chronic diseases consultation stresses patients’ central role

The Commission launched a reflection process on chronic diseases in early November 2011. It followed a request by the Council in its Conclusions on “Innovative approaches for chronic diseases in public health and healthcare systems”, adopted on 7 December 2010. The reflection process aims to produce an EU strategy on chronic diseases, focusing on the sustainability of health systems. The process is likely to conclude during the first part of 2013.

In the first place, the Commission consulted the views of stakeholders (Click here to see the questionnaire) through the EU Health Policy Forum (EUHPF), of which EPF is a member. In December 2011-January 2012 EPF contributed prominently to the Forum’s response focusing in particular on the role of the healthcare system, equity of access, quality of care, patient involvement and patient empowerment. EPF went on to produce a more comprehensive paper from the patients’ perspective in response to the open stakeholder consultation which closed in April 2012.

The spotlight is very much on chronic diseases, both at EU level and globally. Tackling chronic diseases is seen as a key requirement for the sustainability of European health systems. This will inevitably involve greater investment in prevention and health promotion, but also changes to the way healthcare is delivered. Chronic disease strategies and reflection on healthcare systems sustainability is a crucial area where patients can and must contribute: “The patients’ perspective on chronic disease is unique: patients live with their disease, learn to manage it, and to navigate the health system to get the right care. This is why we believe that patients play a key role in identifying unmet service needs, pointing out inefficiencies and waste in the system, and ensuring that strategies to address chronic disease are effective and sustainable”, explained Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous, EPF Senior Policy Adviser.

EPF believes that healthcare reforms need to focus on providing high quality care that meets patients’ needs and results in concrete improvements in people’s quality of life. Reform must focus on quality rather than become a byword for cuts in healthcare budgets.

Please click on the right hand menu in "Related documents" to read the EPF response to the Commission’s stakeholder consultation.