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On 7 November 2017, HFE joined the conference organised by the European Union of Private Hospitals (UEHP), and hosted by MEP Françoise Grossetête (Vice Chair of the European People’s Party Group) in the European Parliament. This event has been the occasion to officially launch the first edition of the Factbook “Private Hospitals in Europe: Supporting Sustainable Health Systems”, a very comprehensive report authored by Mr Hans Martens, European health expert, which reflects on the place of private hospitals in an evolving Europe of 28 member states.

As highlighted in the very first pages of the report, although Europes health systems have common features such as an aspiration to universal coverage and equal access, they are organised in very different ways. Consequently, it has become considerably more difficult to compare system performance across European borders and learn from each other’s best practices. The meeting in which HFE took part served as a learning experience and valuable starting point to reflect more on the current system and future challenges.

As emphasized by Mr Gabriele Pelissero, President of AIOP Italy, private sector combines a positive attitude towards innovation with a strong managerial efficiency. Here comes the need to give space to it in systems where it does not exist yet and to develop more into systems where it already provides its services.

Even though a significant decrease in hospital beds is observed in several EU member states (and OECD), the hospital private sector has increased from 17,56% to 20,45% of total EU beds (from 2007 to 2015) as a 16% progression in a global contracting market. Subsequently, a major challenge lies in the modernization of the provision of healthcare services, including innovation and necessary investment while respecting the strict budgetary constraints of the health systems in each country (Factbook).

The system urges reforms, as pointed out by Mr Hans Martens, author of the study. Sustainability is at the core of the debate. There is clear evidence that inequalities are widely spread across Europe, in terms of money and knowledge. In parallel, there is low awareness on how such inequalities are generated. Private hospitals in Europe do not create inequality, as the payer is generally using the same public health system that provides access to the public hospitals. Inequality is created by the financing system, how payments are made.

Private hospitals, in close collaboration with public hospitals, can offer more choice for patients and shorter waiting times for illnesses, and in many cases provide same or better quality of results than public hospitals for less money. It is thus essential that the system treats private and public hospitals in the same way, on a parity basis, as often underlined during the discussion with stakeholders and public officials, to make European health systems more sustainable and achieve sufficient investment levels to ensure health for all.

Ms Cristina Cartel, UEHP Vice President, called for the development of an integrated, flexible framework where cooperation exists alongside competition as a good incentive for quality.

It is clear that economic and financial pressure will continue to be high in Europe; demographic pressure negatively affects public finances as well as the European welfare state, restricting the investment capacity of the public sector, particularly in health. New models of managing the health sector according to the principles of Value Based Health care (VBHC) may represent the way forward, while exploiting the potential of national health systems, focusing more on patient satisfaction, opening up to higher levels of specialization and transforming repayment systems, ranging from a quantitative approach to quality.

 

Please find the press release below