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EPF’s verdict on the Opinion of the Expert Panel on Effective ways of Investing in Health on access to healthcare

Picture: Launch of the MEP Interest Group on Access to Healthcare © EPF

On 6 November the European Patients’ Forum provided comments to the Expert Panel on Effective ways of Investing in Health as part of the consultation on the preliminary opinion on access to healthcare in the European Union.

Overall, the European Patients’ Forum welcomes the expert panel’s recommendations on multiple dimensions of access to healthcare that are important to EU patientsincluding:

  • Call for linking healthcare spending to the need of the population: this strongly echoes EPF’s call to stop viewing sustainability of healthcare as only “cost containment”. Better spending could also mean that more spending on healthcare and social care is necessary
  • Key focus on access for underserved groups. This is also an important concern for EPF, as highlighted by our position paper “healthcare for all” on discrimination
  • call to rethink the process for funding and reward of innovation, and for more transparency on cost of Research and Development
  • Assessment that the EU has a crucial role to play in improving access to healthcare. The expert panel identified the need for new indicators to better monitor access. EPF believes it is essential to provide a more accurate reflection of the patient experience in order to adopt more effective policy responses to access barriers. This is the rationale behind our investment in the Patient Access Partnership

 

The recommendations of the expert panel however, do not take fully into account the increasing evidence as regards benefit of patient centred healthcare and patient empowerment. From EPF’s perspective, measures to support patient centred healthcare need to become an essential component of policies to improve patient equitable access to high quality safe healthcare. One key example is patient involvement in health technology assessment (HTA), which is increasingly recognised as essential to fully understand the value of innovation for society.  Regrettably, patient involvement in HTA is still insufficient or inexistent in many EU Member States.

In its response, EPF also highlights the Riga Roadmap, which was endorsed by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association (EGA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and EPF in June 2015. The roadmap called for action in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention; universal access to high-quality people-centred health services and ensuring health systems are evidence-based and grounded in common European values of solidarity, high quality and equity.

 “The right to access is fundamental, but it is still not a reality for many EU patients. Ensuring equitable access to healthcare is vital for patients and for society. EPF believes the expert panel opinion should lead to further commitment at EU level to take actions to tackle access barriers. Key health stakeholders including patients need to be involved in for a robust EU approach on access to healthcare” commented Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General.

Contact: Laurène Souchet, EPF Policy Advisor, laurene.souchet@eu-patient.eu