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Second Regional Conference on patients’ rights in Cross-Border Healthcare

Earlier this month, EPF organised our second three-day regional conference on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. This time patient leaders from Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Malta met in Athens, Greece, on 7-9 April to understand the details of this legislation and its transposition at national level.

“The Cross-Border Healthcare (CBHC) Directive opens up new prospects for cooperation in delivering treatment to patients across the EU. Greece, both as a member state and as the current holder of the EU Presidency, is a firm believer in this new era, which places patients’ rights at the centre of European values” said Greece’s Minister of Health Adonis Georgiodis (pictured above).

Ms Annika Nowak, from the European Commission's DG SANCO unit, outlined the main elements of the Directive – underlining that patients’ organisations have a key role to play in monitoring the implementation of the Directive.

The session on ‘the ideal National Contact Point (NCP)’ revealed that these should be the ‘gateway’ to healthcare or even the ‘hope-givers’. They should however not become additional roadblocks to patients accessing the care we need.

“As an important first step, national organisations should adopt a proactive approach towards NCPs and Health Ministries regarding information about this Conference, and should express their willingness to cooperate with other stakeholders in creating optimal information to both patients and healthy citizens” said EPF Board Member Philip Chircop from the Malta Health Network (pictured below).

Some member states have expressed concerns about the potential additional cost burden on their national healthcare systems as a result of the CBHC Directive. Greek Health Minister reacted: “This issue was discussed over many years while the Directive was being prepared, and was addressed from many different perspectives. Now, all the governments know what they need to do, but some of them may need more time to prepare the new environment. Ultimately they will do it, all of us believe that the Directive will help our national healthcare systems.

A comprehensive report of this conference will be soon made available on our website. Further conferences will also be organised in the second semester of 2014 in other EU countries.

National organisations will maintain contact with EPF and other leading patients’ organisations in the implementation of the Directive. During the next two years, EPF and our members will monitor the impact of the legislation closely from our perspective and ensure that the grassroots patients’ experiences will inform the European Commission’s first progress report, due in October 2015.