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July 2015

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LET’S ENSURE CROSS-BORDER HEALTHCARE WORKS FOR PATIENTS ACROSS THE EU

After a series of national and regional events  on cross-border healthcare, organised in 2013-2015, EPF held a major European conference on July 2015 to discuss the implementation of the Directive with patient leaders from across the EU and National Contact Points (NCPs).

The conference, which was held in Brussels on 2 July 2015 was an opportunity to present the results of our regional events that aimed to inform and engage patient communities across the EU on the cross-border healthcare directive. A range of health stakeholders and EU decision-makers participated in the conference, including a representative of the Luxembourg EU Presidency, several National Contact Points. EU Health Commissioner, Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis who was also present, said that the continuing feedback of the patient community remains essential to ensure that the Directive results in concrete benefits for patients across the EU.

The summary report from our conference presents the key concerns of patients around equity of access, patient safety and quality of care, and information to patients.

The report includes a mapping of the “patient journey” in cross-border healthcare, consisting of four stages: when deciding (“enabling trust”), before leaving (“mitigating risks”), during the stay (“dealing with the unexpected”) and after returning (“ensuring continuity”).

It also includes a checklist for the “ideal” National Contact Point (NCP), with recommendations for its fundamental principles and values, accessibility, quality of information and operational performance criteria. Our main message is that the NCPs have potential to become “gateways” for patients to access to high-quality healthcare, but for this to become a reality, they need to be properly resourced, independently evaluated and establish an ongoing collaboration with patient organisations.

We presented key points of the report again at a meeting of the European Commission’s network of National Contact Points, on 2 December 2015. We hope this will lead to concrete initiatives of collaboration between the patient communities and the National Contact Points, both at European and national level next year.

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