On 12 May, HFE attended the 9th European Patients’ Rights dedicated to sustainability of healthcare systems with a specific focus on the burned of chronic diseases. Organised by the Active Citizenship Network (ACN), the 9th edition of the European Patients’ Rights Day represented a moment to reflect and discuss on the current state of the European Charter of Patients’ rights launched in 2003 and to outline the future ACN actions particularly the establishment of a European Parliamentary interest group on European Patients’ Rights and Cross-Border Healthcare.

Active Citizenship Network is an umbrella association of about 100 civic organizations from 30 countries aimed towards developing an European Active citizenship. In 2013, ACN launched the European Charter of Patients’ Rights to guarantee a “high level of human health protection” (Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) and to assure the high quality of services provided by the various national health services in Europe.

The 9th European Patients’ Rights Day Primary brought together patients organizations, health professionals, the European Commission and representatives of the European Parliament to reflect on the role and the responsibilities of policymakers and health stakeholders to make healthcare systems sustainable and efficient, and to create an integrated approach able to balance cost reduction, social equity and quality of care.

MEP Borrelli (EFDD, IT) and MEP Pittella (S&D President, IT) who supported the event, engaged themselves as members of new EP Interest Group on European Patients’ Rights and Cross-Border Healthcare and pointed out that patients’ rights, as stated in the Charter, are non-negotiable and universal values to be guaranteed to all the European citizens.

Mr Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General for Consumers and Health at DG Santé gave a broad overview of the key figures on the challenges of chronic diseases and patients’ rights in the framework of EU. The European Commission approach on chronic diseases is at the same time holistic, in the sense that main chronic diseases’ problem can be tackled in same way, and specific as the treatment of chronic disease might require personalised care to meet patients ‘needs. He announced that the Commission is currently working on a report on patients ‘rights in the European Member States to be published in October.

The 2 panels discussed the role of different actors in developing sustainable healthcare systems and the role of prevention and innovation in sustainable healthcare systems. The first panel reflected on how to avoid further infringements on patients’ rights due to indiscriminate national budget reductions which, in some cases, have turned the right to the right treatment and dignity for chronic patients into a privilege. In order to tackle this problem, the European Commission is currently assessing national healthcare systems to propose and provide social equitable solutions for reform. As stated by MEP Pedinici, “We cannot change the current economic situation, but we can reduce the cost connected to bad management and the waste of resources”. The second panel focused on the research of more effective and smarter approaches to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and to the preservation of “life with dignity” for patients. Innovation remain a critical element of all healthcare reforms.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Mariano Motta, Director of Active Citizenship Network, stated that the “sustainability of healthcare systems is a common good to be safeguarded, but protection of patients’ rights should not be overlooked.” Therefore, he called for the institutionalization of the European Patients’ Rights Day as an effective message for European Institutions to put patients’ rights at the forefront of any discussion of healthcare system reform.