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More patient involvement in patient safety

Patient safety and quality of care was high on December’s agenda. The Council conclusions adopted on 1 December 2014 marked an important milestone in this area while our Senior Policy Adviser Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous attended two important meetings to remind policy-makers of the importance of transparency and patient empowerment in this area.

On 2-3 December 2014 Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous gave a talk on transparency and accountabilityat the Media Cluster Meeting on patient safety and quality of care. Organised in Rome by the European Commission under the Italian EU Presidency, the meeting supports the dissemination of results of the EU Health Programme with experts, project coordinators, and media.

The two main EU-level reference points on patient safety are the 2009 Council recommendation on patient safety, and the 2011 directive on cross-border healthcare. Both documents ask member states to be transparent and provide information on patients’ rights, safety, and quality of healthcare. But in practice patients still do not have access to information that is easily available and understandable, and meaningful comparable information is largely missing.

Patients need guidance on how to interpret quality and safety data, but there should also be guidelines developed at EU level on how to provide good information for patients. In our view, member states alone cannot ensure meaningful change for patients – this needs EU support through legislation, coordination and sharing of good practices”, said Ms. Immonen-Charalambous.

Patient Safety Working Group

EPF also took part in the patient safety working group meeting on 18 December 2014 in Brussels. The Council conclusions (link, PDF) adopted earlier were at the centre of the attention as they call for further action in the field of patient safety and quality of care.  Member states and the Commission are invited to work – among others – on promoting patient safety culture, dimensions of quality of healthcare and methodologies of establishing patient safety standards.

Moreover, they are requested to propose by December 2016 a framework for a sustainable EU collaboration in this area, to follow the EU Network for Patient Safety and Quality of Care or PaSQ Joint Action which concludes in 2015.  

Increasing patient involvement is also one of the major recommendations both in the 2009 document and the new Council conclusions. This requires a fundamental cultural change on the ground as well as high-level political support at EU level which the patient community support to make progress towards equitable access to high-quality care for all patients in Europe.  

Contact: Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous, EPF Senior Policy Advisor, kaisa.immonen.charalambous@eu-patient.eu