Brussels, (07 Feb 2023) – The European Network for Safer Healthcare, an initiative of Health First Europe, published a new report entitled: Strengthening Healthcare Systems Through Better Patient Safety in the Fight Against Cancer: A Call for Stronger EU Action. The comprehensive 40-page white paper outlines the importance of patient safety measures and how they are missing from Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (EBCP). Ten separate policy recommendations are defined with the aim of cementing patient safety on the EU health policy agenda.

At present, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan fails to include the critical concept of patient safety, which remains a serious challenge for healthcare systems across the globe. This includes developed countries such as those in the European Union.

This new report illustrates and draws attention to the most common types of preventable patient harm, the prevalence and severity of the identified harm, and aims to encourage the inclusion of patient safety in the implementation of the Beating Cancer Plan as well as ensure patient safety is firmly respected and acknowledged within EU policy. Not adding patient safety standards in the EBCP carries the risk of irreversible patient safety issues that could potentially jeopardize the treatments and outcomes of cancer care and quality of life overall.

Irrespective of the origin of harm, be it from medication errors or healthcare-associated infections, patients can be severely affected both physically and emotionally. It should also be remembered that the healthcare workforce can also suffer severe consequences.

Due to the complexity of healthcare systems and processes, there is an increasing need for collaboration and synergies between health science education, the health workforce and IT systems to improve clinical benefits and health outcomes by enhancing patient safety. This reinforces the need for an improvement of knowledge and skills across a range of disciplines. In short, there is an ever-increasing need for a multi-disciplinary approach which can only be optimised by increased digitalisation of IT infrastructure within the hospital and community environments.

Patient safety in oncology should remain a standard indicator of the quality of care and a critical objective on the EU health policy agenda as all European citizens deserve the same level of safeguarding and protection at all stages of their healthcare. Patient safety is also a critical indicator of life overall, as any patient safety issue, reversible or irreversible, potentially affects the quality of life. This report calls on European policy makers and national health authorities to update the Council conclusions on patient safety and quality of care, which have not been updated since 2014.

The contents of this report in addition to key recommendations have been made in contribution with partner organisations of the ENSH provided professional reference material, insight on the topic and expert revision and guidance on the copy.

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About HFE

Health First Europe is a non-profit, non-commercial alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics, healthcare experts and the medical technology industry. We are joining forces to transform health care through innovative solutions. Since we believe that every European citizen should benefit from the best medical treatments available, we aim to ensure that equitable access to modern, innovative and reliable health care solutions is seen as a vital investment in the future of Europe. Our alliance was born in 2004 thanks to commitment of our co-Patrons and our members to build truly patient-centred healthcare systems in Europe.

The European Network for Safer Healthcare (ENSH) is an initiative of Health First Europe which stands as a unified organization of healthcare stakeholders. Their members include eleven organizations encompassing all sectors of healthcare. Their aim is to further enhance safety for healthcare patients and workers in Europe concomitantly pushing for progressive health safety proceedings in EU policy.

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