Informal MEP discussion on Equity of Access to Quality Healthcare

On 28 January 2014, MEPs from different political groups and countries held an informal discussion on the arising problem of unequal access to quality healthcare in the European countries. This is a positive outcome of the diverse discussions that were initiated since 2012 by EPF and our member organisations.

The event was supported by the Bulgarian MEP Dr. Andrey Kovatchev (EPP/GERB) and brought together representatives of the European Commission (EC), the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and the Bulgarian National Patients’ Organization as well as representatives of the professional organizations of doctors, the European Federation of Nurses (EFN) and the pharmaceutical industry at European level.

MEP Aloij Peterle (EPP, Slovenia), Petru Luhan (EPP, Romania), Peter Liese (EPP, Germany), Angelika Werthmann – (ALDE, Austria) and the Bulgarian MEPs: Vladimir Urutchev (EPP, Bulgaria) and Prof. Vladko Panayotov (ALDE, Bulgaria) also took part in the forum.

The main purpose of the meeting was to reflect on the priorities of the European Parliament for the next mandate. It was agreed that access to healthcare should be a major issue within the EP priorities.

According to Andrey Kovatchev, MEP the solution to this common EU issue should be sought at European level, although the decision-making power of the EU in this area is still limited.
He noted that “The main responsibility for providing quality healthcare services falls on the Member States’ healthcare system, but EU institutions need to coordinate, supervise and guide them in achieving this goal”. “Public administrations should improve the utilization of funds, in particular the European Social Fund, which will enhance the quality of medical service for patients", he added.

Dr. Stanimir Hasardzhiev, Chairperson of the Bulgarian National Patients’ Organization (NPO) and EPF Board Member, briefed the participants on the idea of the future European Partnership on Equity of Access to Quality Healthcare which is in process. It will consist in a platform to combine the efforts of authorities, stakeholders and industry to identify possible new mechanisms for ensuring that patients have access to affordable and quality healthcare.

"Tackling health inequalities faced by patients in the EU should be a major focus in the election campaigns of candidates and a commitment to their future work as MEPs” he concluded.

This event follows the “Consensus Meeting on Access and Equity for Patients” that was held on 3 December 2013 in Warsaw, Poland. The meeting organised by our member organisation, the Federation of Polish Patients (FPP), aimed to continue the dialogue on access to healthcare initiated in 2012.

Please find the report of this meeting on our website section about health inequalities.

Dr. Kovatchev in collaboration with a number of MEPs submitted a written question to the European Commission on its role in achieving progress in ensuring equal access to quality healthcare for all EU citizens. The European Commission has until early March 2014 to submit a written answer.

For more information, please contact EPF Director, Nicola Bedlington at






*Picture credits: NPO, MEP Dr. Andrey Kovatchev (EPP/GERB)