EPF Roundtable on the implementation of patients’ rights in Cross-border Healthcare
4 December 2017, Thon Hotel EU, Brussels – Belgium
On 4th December, EPF organised in Brussels a roundtable discussion on the implementation of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare with main aim to provide an updated assessment of the current state of implementation of the Directive 2011/24/EU from the perspective of patients, pointing out the gaps in access as well as in the quality and safety of the care received across Europe.
This one-day event was an opportunity for more than 100 representatives of patient organisations, national and European policymakers, and other stakeholders to take stock of the implementation of Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, its successes, barriers and opportunities. Specifically, the event had as an aim to contribute to the development of a proposal for a tool to collect feedback from patients and the patient community for future monitoring of the Directive1. Ms Eva Kritza, Chair of AGORA, represented AGORA to this event.
Mr Juan Fuertes, EPF Board Member opened the session by welcoming all delegates while he introduced the program of the conference and then Ms Elen Ohov, Counsellor of the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU, presented her view concerning the implementation of the Directive throughout the last years.
Following the introductory session, a session on the topic of “Patients’ rights in the EU: where are we now?” took place that was moderated by Ms Tamsin Rose. In the same session, Mr Willy Palm, Senior Adviser of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, took the floor and presented the “Results of an EU mapping study of patients’ rights: focus on rights relevant to the Directive” while Ms Sabina Stan, Lecturer – SNHS-DCU with Mr Tomas Mainil, Senior lecturer, – NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, have also delivered a presentation under the title “How transnationalisation of healthcare in Europe affects patients”.
Right after, a parallel break-out session took place, which was divided into the three following sessions:
- Session 1: Information for patients
- Session 2: Access and equity
- Session 3: Patient involvement in future monitoring
The closing plenary started with the Rapporteurs of the 3 break-out parallel sessions giving a quick feedback to the audience about the most important points that has been highlighted and discussed during the sessions. Following, Mr Balasz Lengyel from DG SANTE presented the perspective of the European Commission concerning the implementation of the Directive. The closing of the Conference has been made by Ms Tamsin Rose where she presented the wrap up of the Conferences’ key messages and the next steps to follow while the meeting ended with the closing statement of Mr Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary-General.
Some of the key recommendations for the achievement of the main purpose of the Directive, as stated during the workshops, are:
- Patient organisation must provide and facilitate patients’ access to information
- Ensuring quality in providing services and safe access for patients in these services, are two of the most important determinants in the successful implementation of cross-border healthcare
- The fighting of health inequalities and equity in patients’ access can be achieved by collecting evidence in European level and providing a mechanism for financial support for patients and their families, based on their need.
The EU Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare came into force on 25 October 2013. Based on a guide2 that EPF published in November 2013, some of the key benefits of the Directive for patients are:
- Recognition for the first time in EU law that patients have a right to cross-border healthcare and are entitled to be reimbursed for it
- Right to information on cross-border healthcare, and the creation of National Contact Points in each Member State to provide this;
- Right of patients to obtain a copy of their medical record and to get appropriate medical follow-up in the home country;
- Recognition of prescriptions made abroad ;
- Transparency on the quality and safety standards for healthcare that apply in each Member State;
- Legal basis for European co-operation on eHealth and Health Technology Assessment;
- Better cooperation between Member States in rare diseases, including establishing a legal basis for European Reference Networks and centres of excellence.