PRESS RELEASE: Health First Europe launches a trailblazing Insight Report on Better Screening and Secondary Prevention in Europe

Health First Europe launches a trailblazing Insight Report on Better Screening and Secondary Prevention in Europe

 

Brussels, 17 September 2021 – For World Patient Safety Day, Health First Europe (HFE) published a comprehensive Insight Report entitled “The Compelling Case for Better Screening and Secondary Prevention in Europe: Lessons From Five Representative Diseases” that affect millions of European citizens each year and how the European Union could and should do a better job for its citizens.

The report focuses on breast cancer, type 2 Diabetes, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), heart failure and severe combined immune deficiencies (SCID).

This report outlines the burden of such diseases to the healthcare systems of the European Union and shows the solutions and concrete examples known to be effective in screening programmes for these diseases. It also lays out concrete policy recommendations to improve outcomes for patients and society throughout the EU.

“This Insight Report is potentially game-changing as it shows how much screening and secondary prevention can help to improve our healthcare systems,” said Roberto Bertollini, Honorary President of Health First Europe, and a former Chief Scientist of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. “If this report doesn’t demonstrate the importance of boosting the availability of screening programmes in Europe, I am not sure what will.”

HFE Executive Director Brandon Mitchener said at the report’s launch that the current impact of the analysed diseases on EU healthcare systems highlights the need to boost secondary prevention and screening programmes across the EU. “The use of digital tools in particular has the potential to unlock a pool of valuable knowledge in an unprecedented way to prevent diseases and identify early signals of poor health”, he said.

John Bowis, HFE Co-Patron and a former Member of the European Parliament, said that the report was “a clear warning to policymakers that the role of secondary prevention and screening needs to be taken much more seriously. These are key enablers for saving lives while ensuring the sustainability of our healthcare systems,” he said.

HFE is a non-profit, non-commercial alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics, healthcare experts and the medical technology industry. Its vision includes having sustainable healthcare systems in Europe, enabling healthcare practitioners to innovate in new models of delivering healthcare services, developing patient-centric solutions and showcasing how “health equals wealth.”

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.

Contact for media inquiries: info@healthfirsteurope.org

Health First Europe publishes its annual report for 2020-2021

Health First Europe publishes its annual report for 2020-2021

The HFE annual report is a comprehensive review on HFE activities throughout the preceding year. It intends to give an overview of our campaigns, networks, events and publications.

Enjoy the reading!

Click here to see the report. 

EVENT SUMMARY: Increasing adherence to CAUTI guidelines: Recommendations from existing evidence

Increasing adherence to CAUTI guidelines: recommendations from existing evidence

30 June 2021, 11.00-13:00 CET via ZOOM
Hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi (Hungary, S&D)

 

The event and launch of the ENSH report on “INCREASING ADHERENCE TO CAUTI GUIDELINES: RECOMMENDATIONS FROM EXISTING EVIDENCE’’ was held on Wednesday, 30 June 2021 via videoconference. Moderated by Mr. Brandon Mitchener, Executive Director of Health First Europe and coordinator of the European Network for Safer Healthcare (ENSH), the event brought together multiple health stakeholders to dissect current challenges plaguing catheter-associated urinary tract infections’ (CAUTI) guidelines adherence and to share best practices from the field. Mr Mitchener opened the virtual floor and emphasised on the diversity of participants: academics, healthcare professionals, patient organisations, among others.

The event was hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi (Hungary, S&D), who stressed the need for greater patient protection and safety across Europe. MEP Ujhelyi called on the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Commission (EC) to consider implementing the solutions enshrined in the new report that was co-written by the ENSH and the European Association of Urology Nurses (EAUN), in association with the European Association of Urology (EAU). The host also urged organisers, panellists, and stakeholders to further discuss, support and align consensus on increasing adherence on the European guidelines.

The first presentation of the event was focused on the implications of CAUTI in AMR and healthcare costs in the EU. The discussion was led by Prof. Michael A. Borg, from the Maltese National Antibiotic Committee. According to Prof. Borg thanks to data from the ECDC, we know that 6.5% of European patients in hospital admission will suffer from a healthcare associated infection during their stay, with about 19%-20% constituting urinary tract infection (UTI). He added that urinary tract infection is one of the top three infections acquired in healthcare settings. CAUTI also represent an excess cost of 390 million euros a year for the EU with almost 400,000 excess hospital days, which represents around 3800 life years.

The second part of the event focused on the current European guidelines on CAUTI, the identification of the main barriers to enforce existing guidelines and the recommendations for better enforcement.

Dr Gernot Bonkat of the European Association of Urology was the second speaker to intervene. He noted the rise of antibiotic resistance, the issue of quality of care, and the multitude of guidelines available are not sufficiently followed. Dr Bonkat stressed that the perfect preventive means vis-à-vis CAUTI is a good hygiene program within hospitals.

The third speaker was Dr Jose Medina Polo from the Spanish Association of Urology, who discussed the importance of identifying barriers and promoting education for better enforcement. Dr Medina Polo noted that education at all levels and departments reduced the risk of infection and gave examples on how his hospital in Madrid is actually implementing these best practices in order to avoid CAUTI.

The fourth speaker was Chair Susanne Vahr Lauridsen of the European Association of Urology Nurses. She emphasised on the fact that CAUTI is among the common healthcare infections, and that about 16% – 35% of patients in hospitals are fitted with a urinary catheter during their stay. Susanne Vahr noted that very little is known about patient’s perspective on the use of indwelling urinary catheters and the absence of information on alternatives. She added that patient involvement improved overall behaviour of healthcare providers and that the best way to prevent catheter associated urinary tract infections is to avoid the use of indwelling catheters.

The focus of the third part of the event was towards the correct implementation of the guidelines across European countries.

The fifth speaker for the event was Director on Public Health Mr. John F. Ryan from the European Commission, DG SANTE. Dir. Ryan stated that urinary tract infections are not only commonly healthcare associated infections, but they are also linked to increased morbidity, and mortality to decreased quality of life. He pointed out that CAUTI can lead to extended hospital stays and increased healthcare costs. He noted that the new mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) includes healthcare-associated infections in terms of surveillance and risk assessment and better focus will be given to patient safety. He also outlined some of the policy measures undertaken (i.e., health policy platform) by the Commission and those being developed (i.e., introduce new regulatory frameworks).

Prof. Saïd Laribi, Chair of the Chair of the EUSEM Research Network of the European Society for Emergency Medicine was the sixth speaker of the event. He noted a pattern of catheter overuse and poor insertion technique as some of the factors contributing to hospital infections. Dr Laribi suggested that staffs be required to specify the medical reason for catheter insertion, making physicians responsible for determining catheter use. Practitioners should also be made aware of alternatives to avoid overuse, he adds.

Prof. Maurizio Cecconi, President of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine concluded the meeting stressing the importance on raising awareness on sepsis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when the human body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues. He added that UTI’s, for instance, can amount up to 25% of all cases of sepsis. Prof. Cecconi stated that access to antibiotics for sepsis patients did not occur for up to a third of cases – something that can increase mortality. He encouraged proper antibiotic stewardship protocols, together with protocols for the recognition and treating of sepsis.

In the ensuing debate, panellists agreed that:

  • Education and proper adherence/compliance to CAUTI guidelines are critical success factors to reduce hospital infections.
  • Patient involvement is long overdue and that alternative solutions regarding catheter usage should always be discussed.
  • Equitable access to quality antibiotics is key to avoid resistance among infected patients.

Please read & share the ENSH report here.

Please find the final slide deck including all speaker presentations here.

Please find the event recording here.

More information about the event can be found here.

PUBLICATION: Increasing adherence to CAUTI guidelines: Recommendations from existing evidence

Increasing adherence to CAUTI guidelines: Recommendations from existing evidence

Co-written by Health First Europe, the European Network for Safer Healthcare (ENSH) and the European Association of Urology Nurses (EAUN), this comprehensive report “Increasing adherence to CAUTI guidelines: Recommendations from existing evidence” aims to raise awareness on catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and discuss evidence-based recommendations on how to prevent them.

The report was launched at an event today hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi (S&D, Hungary), and organised by the European Network for Safer Healthcare (ENSH), bringing together policy makers from the European Commission and the European Parliament, and many healthcare experts, including the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, the European Society for Emergency Medicine, the European Association of Urology and the European Association of Urology Nurses.

Please find the full report here. More information about the event can be found here.

Visit the ENSH website to know more about the network and its activities.

Event Summary: Strengthening the resilience and resource efficiency of EU health systems: A call for an integrated approach

Event Summary

European Parliament Interest Group on Innovation in Health & Social Care 

“Strengthening the resilience and resource efficiency of EU health systems: A call for an integrated approach”

 

The synergies between Horizon Europe, the EU4Health programme and Digital Europe will ensure a health transformation in Europe. — MEP István Ujhelyi

The meeting of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care entitled “Strengthening the resilience and resource efficiency of EU health systems: A call for an integrated approach” took place on 12 May 2021 via videoconference. Chaired by HFE Vice President Dr Neda Milevska-Kostova, the event intended to gather EU policymakers, academia, and representatives from healthcare associations and patients’ groups to deliberate on how to improve European Health Systems to make it truly patient-centred, specifically to strengthen the capability of the European Union for prevention and preparedness to tackle future disease outbreaks. The debate was aimed at formulating concrete proposals and exchange of best practice for the future of a strong European Health Union.

The meeting was hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi (Hungary, S&D) who started his presentation by reminding participants that the EU4Health programme offers better protection against crises while also improving health and fostering innovation. MEP Ujhelyi added that the epidemic has highlighted the need for resilience in Europe, given the rising tide of medicine shortages in the EU caused by Europe’s dependency on outside countries. He highlighted the need for access to data, enhanced cooperation, and the digitalisation of the medical supply chain, as well as better cross-border training programmes. MEP Ujhelyi reminded the audience that the Conference of the Future of Europe will offer a good opportunity to enhance healthcare systems while not undermining member states’ competencies.

The first part of the meeting focused on supporting integrated and coordinated work between EU Member States. The discussion was led by Dr Loukianos Gatzoulis, Policy Analyst at DG SANTE of the European Commission, who underlined what is coming out of the COVID-19 crisis; a debate, which is about reimagining public health, redesigning our health systems to be more resilient to future shocks, as well as a big opportunity for stronger collaboration between countries and across borders.

Dr. Gatzoulis put emphasis on strengthening primary care, integrating health and social care, and taking advantage of the potential of innovations. He added that the EU could be making better use of knowledge brokering, exchange of best practices, and offering hands on technical, and very importantly financial support from the European programmes.

The attendees then analysed some policy actions needed to reinforce the healthcare workforce. Professor Maurizio Cecconi, President of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), welcomed the International Nursing Day 2021 and applauded the work being carried out by nurses across Europe. Prof. Cecconi stressed that the pandemic was a challenge, and that ICUs were operating at 150 to 200%, and thus required many extra shifts. He highlighted that a major issue was the lack of staff and resources in ICUs during the pandemic. He recommended further collaboration between research and practice, with further cooperation between healthcare systems and the enablement of free movement of intensivists and other specialists within the EU. Maria Teresa Parisotto, the Executive Director of the European Specialist Nurses Organisation (ESNO), followed this discussion and stated that an American survey showed that 87% of nurses feared going to work during the pandemic, anticipating an analogy in the European context. She noted that COVID-19 was not only responsible for the ‘chaos’, but also for the reduction of healthcare funding and salaries, as well as the increased workload, thus leading to a lack of morale. In her view, a new Health Vision 2030 should be developed with interprofessional teams, through the integration of health networks as well as a better data collection and predictive models.

The following panel provided a space to discuss actions on disease prevention, health promotion and how to address health determinants. Dineke Zeegers Paget, Executive Director of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA), highlighted the importance of prevention in healthcare systems. She stressed that the healthcare systems should better focus on lifestyle and health determinants, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and gaming, as well as on tackling chronic diseases and health literacy. Ms Zeegers added that it would be the role of individuals but also of governments and the industry to truly change how healthcare operates for the better.

Ms Hilkka Karkkainen, President of GAMIAN-Europe, intervened and highlighted the need for the introduction of mental health skills curricula in schools and the development of free-access mental health centres that are open to the public. She stressed the need to stop treating mental health as any other chronic condition and highlighted the work of GAMIAN-Europe on a campaign to increase the awareness of mental health following the pandemic. She called on the EU to develop an EU Strategy on Mental Health.

The last panel addressed the implementation of best practices and promoting data sharing and the contribution was made by Ray Pinto, Policy Director for Digital Transformation at DIGITALEUROPE. He highlighted the importance of data will help understand the issues that occur in European healthcare systems, and how data from European citizens could fuel the development of many digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). He suggested the development of electronic health records that could help healthcare accessibility across the EU, but he also noted the fragmented internal market that will prevent the full potential of the European Data Space, highlighting specifically the exceptions to Member States in the GDPR. He added that to reduce bias and error with machine learning requires large datasets, and that data rules applied in Member States is both protective as it is preventive of data flows, making smaller health AI companies look for data elsewhere to train algorithms. Moreover, he stressed that the European Parliament should aim at ensuring transborder data sharing and anticipate the negotiation between EU Member States and the institutions to ensure the full potential of the European Data Space is used for better health and wellbeing of all citizens.

In the ensuing debate, panellists remarked that:  

  • The Recovery and Resilience Facility will bring a more operational dimensions to the European Semester processes and the Country-Specific Recommendations, which refer also to healthcare workforce.
  • Further investment in most health areas is needed, including more doctors in primary care, as well as enhanced support for multidisciplinary teams. Taking into consideration the resource limitations, where possible, to enable free movement of specialists across the European health Union.
  • There is a need for interoperability of healthcare systems in Europe with further connection between members states, including enablement of free movement of specialists, based on standardised competence frameworks.
  • As part of the resilience and preparedness of healthcare systems for future pandemics and emergencies, consideration should be given to reformulation of medical curricula and health education, including more comprehensive programs for training healthcare professionals as well as providing literacy programs for patients.
  • Mental health is as important as physical health, and systems should reconsider the approaches, especially in providing community support and literacy/education to patients to enable them to recognise mental health problems at early stages as well as to act as expert patients skilled to help other mental health patients.
  • Data and medical innovations will have a crucial role to play in tackling the current issues in healthcare, but also in integration of health and social care systems, in particular to help address acute situations and citizens’ needs at community level.
  • There is a need for openness of data and for reconsidering data protection policies so to enable rather than hamper data use. Digital transformation should not be perceived as merely digitalisation – IT technologies should be embraced as enablers for faster recovery from the current pandemic, as well as for building back better and more prepared health systems.

EUHPP Stakeholder Network – Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the Future

EUHPP Stakeholder Network – Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the Future

Health First Europe (HFE) and the European Health Management Association (EHMA) are pleased to announce the transition of their 2020 thematic network on Profiling and training the health care workers of the future into an official EU Stakeholder Network in order to build a community of expertise and practice around the evolving skills required of the EU’s health workforce.

In 2020-21, EHMA and HFE jointly coordinated the one-year Thematic Network dedicated to ‘Profiling and training the health care workers of the future’. The Thematic Network had more than 31 stakeholders across European health and care systems with the relevant experience to inform a policy discussion and to define the barriers and incentives to promote the education, training and upskilling of the health workforce.

The goals of the network were to support the European Commission and its Members States in profiling future healthcare workers’ needs and identifying and improving their core competencies in light of anticipated future healthcare needs. It was also designed to highlight a potentially more important role for the Commission in the debate about health system reforms, digitalisation and new models of care.

The final output of the network was the development of a Joint Statement that presents a list of workforce education best practices which can be shared across borders. It speaks to the skills required of the workforce of the future and the role of healthcare professionals in promoting data-driven innovation. Importantly, they would also promote patient-centered and inter-disciplinary models of care. Additionally, the joint statement identifies the core competencies of the workforce of the future and presents a set of concluding policy recommendations to encourage more ambitious initiatives at the EU, national and organisational level.

The Joint Statement was endorsed by 26 organisations and more than 20 health experts in the EU health ecosystem. Along with their endorsements, the stakeholders expressed their interest in continuing to work on this topic, to build on the work of the thematic network and to continue sharing best practices.

The newly created stakeholder network will continue to:

  • highlight best practices;
  • revisit and scale-up the activities of the thematic network, most specifically the survey, to strengthen the evidence base to identify the core competencies required of Europe’s future health workforce in general; and
  • build on its previous work to identify more concrete areas for action by health authorities to support pan-European collaboration in the upskilling and reskilling of the health workforce.

You can join this network by registering in the EU Health Policy Platform and requesting access to the network. See here for more information on how to join the Platform.

For more information on the network, please contact Laura Cande at laura.cande@ehma.org and Daniel Costa at info@healthfirsteurope.org

EVENT SUMMARY: Integration of health and social care to tackle disease outbreaks

[When faced with the current pandemic] Members States who lagged in their integration of health of social care […] had, at the beginning, a higher mortality rate than others

MEP Tomislav Sokol

The virtual meeting of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care entitled ‘Integration of health and social care to tackle disease outbreaks’ took place on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 via videoconference. The meeting intended to gather EU policymakers, academia, and representatives from healthcare associations and patients’ groups to deliberate how to improve European Health Systems to make it truly patient-centred, specifically to strengthen the capability of the Union for prevention and preparedness to tackle future disease outbreaks. The meeting aimed at formulating concrete recommendations to be able to provide meaningful support in the development of the EU4HEALTH programme.

The virtual table was opened by HFE President Roberto Bertollini, who emphasised the cruciality of the meeting. Although the current pandemic has started to be mitigated with the arrival of several vaccines, we should step back a minute and think about how future disease outbreaks and challenges can be addressed and controlled, he said. He stressed the blows that the pandemic has struck against society and how vital it is to put prevention at the heart of the European Health Systems through the use of technology and the interpretation of biological and medical signals as well as intervening early based on the precautionary principle. He highlighted his encouragement after the publication of the Expert Panel Opinion of the organisation of resilient health and social care following the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasised that frequent pan European exercises should be carried out to ensure once again that the word resilience becomes a reality rather than an empty popular slogan.

The discussion was hosted by MEP Tomislav Sokol (EPP, Croatia), who stressed the good timing of the meeting and how it is very connected to the concrete problems and issues that we currently face. He stressed that the European response to the current pandemic was rather slow and that the current public perception of the European response is also negative. He stressed that the issue was not the European response itself, but the lack of a coherent European response due to the national competencies in the area of health. He further highlighted that the link between health and social care is crucial as countries that lacked more in their integration had a higher mortality rate and how important primary care was to prevent future disease outbreaks due to its being the first point of contact in terms of epidemiological measures. MEP Sokol argued that the EU could provide added value thanks to its ability to act, for instance by implementing exchanges and mandating interoperability of health data at the European level, as well as its ability to invest in the European workforce and in terms of making European health systems more cohesive throughout Europe.

The first part of the meeting focused on the causality of the impact of the current pandemic on the collapse in primary care services for long-term conditions and how much impact could be reversed. The discussion was led by Diederik Aarendonk, Forum Coordinator of the European Forum for Primary Care, who described the impact in exacerbating health disparities in the continent, especially in that it impacted those already vulnerable more than those who weren’t. He added that the pandemic widened the educational gap and led to higher stress levels for such groups but also led to the postponement of healthcare and services. He noted that the pandemic can be a ‘game-changer’ for primary care services if there are investments to implement integrated, horizontal, community-based primary health-care systems and investment in the workforce as well as to create a new organisational and financial model based on the integration of health and social care.

The meeting then moved on to a discussion of the policy actions needed to help integrate health and social care to reduce the risk of disease outbreak. Neda Milevska, Board Vice-Chair of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organisations and Vice-President of Health First Europe, said the current pandemic has shown that health should be a priority and that patients should be at the centre of the health system. She highlighted that primary care services are at the frontline of every long-term condition and need support from the healthcare system and the society at large, including with digital solutions. She noted the role that patients can play in treating disease outbreaks both as a partner in shared decision-making or a co-creator in evidence-based solutions as well as a co-designer of holistic public health approaches.

The third speaker of the meeting was Anu Söderström, President of Occupational Therapy Europe, who described what occupational therapy can offer to the EU for Health Programme, specifically in terms of strengthening its health systems pillar. She noted that Occupational Therapy enhances the enablement of digital solutions to improve patients’ access to services, providing an example of how it can help those who live in remote areas through teletherapy. She highlighted that occupational therapy has a high client satisfaction, is cost-effective, and increases social participation, though she also noted that there is an unequal availability to such services. Finally, she stressed that there is a need to increase the digital skills of health professionals and patients, as well as increase patient access to tele-health solutions.

The last contribution was made by Professor Pedro Pita Barros, Member of the European Commission Expert Panel, on effective ways of investing in health. He presented the recently published Expert Panel Opinion and how the Expert Group got its inspiration from existing approaches to the resilience of health systems. He noted that there are a number of shared concerns when talking about the resilience of health systems towards shocks, namely: their ability to look ahead, to absorb shocks and to adapt to them and their aptitude to learn from them. He added that there are some elements common to most countries: vulnerable groups were most affected by the pandemic. Non-Covid-19 care patients were harmed due to resources diverted to COVID-19 patients, and that will be pressure on mental health issues in the long-term. He stressed that there is a need to anticipate future disease outbreaks, be ‘prepared to prepare’ a response’ and adapt at short notice through the redesign of patient’ paths inside organisations and through telemedicine. He highlighted that there is a need to invest in training and resilience of the health workforce, ensure relevant data flows in a timely and organised way and pilot the resilience test toolkit provided by the Expert Panel Opinion.

In the ensuing debate, panellists agreed that:

  • social care, though not covered in the Expert Panel Opinion due to its focus on health systems, is crucial to tackling disease outbreaks.
  • when utilising digital tools, data security is also another primordial issue that needs to be tackled.
  • further resources should be provided for primary care workers as well as further training for healthcare workers to collaborate internationally; and that
  • a multi-faceted approach is needed to put prevention at the centre of European health systems and tackle future disease outbreaks.

You are able to access all speaker presentations here:

EVENT SUMMARY: Integration of health and social care to tackle disease outbreaks

[When faced with the current pandemic] Members States who lagged in their integration of health of social care […] had, at the beginning, a higher mortality rate than others

MEP Tomislav Sokol

The virtual meeting of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care entitled ‘Integration of health and social care to tackle disease outbreaks’ took place on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 via videoconference. The meeting intended to gather EU policymakers, academia, and representatives from healthcare associations and patients’ groups to deliberate how to improve European Health Systems to make it truly patient-centred, specifically to strengthen the capability of the Union for prevention and preparedness to tackle future disease outbreaks. The meeting aimed at formulating concrete recommendations to be able to provide meaningful support in the development of the EU4HEALTH programme.

The virtual table was opened by HFE President Roberto Bertollini, who emphasised the cruciality of the meeting. Although the current pandemic has started to be mitigated with the arrival of several vaccines, we should step back a minute and think about how future disease outbreaks and challenges can be addressed and controlled, he said. He stressed the blows that the pandemic has struck against society and how vital it is to put prevention at the heart of the European Health Systems through the use of technology and the interpretation of biological and medical signals as well as intervening early based on the precautionary principle. He highlighted his encouragement after the publication of the Expert Panel Opinion of the organisation of resilient health and social care following the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasised that frequent pan European exercises should be carried out to ensure once again that the word resilience becomes a reality rather than an empty popular slogan.

The discussion was hosted by MEP Tomislav Sokol (EPP, Croatia), who stressed the good timing of the meeting and how it is very connected to the concrete problems and issues that we currently face. He stressed that the European response to the current pandemic was rather slow and that the current public perception of the European response is also negative. He stressed that the issue was not the European response itself, but the lack of a coherent European response due to the national competencies in the area of health. He further highlighted that the link between health and social care is crucial as countries that lacked more in their integration had a higher mortality rate and how important primary care was to prevent future disease outbreaks due to its being the first point of contact in terms of epidemiological measures. MEP Sokol argued that the EU could provide added value thanks to its ability to act, for instance by implementing exchanges and mandating interoperability of health data at the European level, as well as its ability to invest in the European workforce and in terms of making European health systems more cohesive throughout Europe.

The first part of the meeting focused on the causality of the impact of the current pandemic on the collapse in primary care services for long-term conditions and how much impact could be reversed. The discussion was led by Diederik Aarendonk, Forum Coordinator of the European Forum for Primary Care, who described the impact in exacerbating health disparities in the continent, especially in that it impacted those already vulnerable more than those who weren’t. He added that the pandemic widened the educational gap and led to higher stress levels for such groups but also led to the postponement of healthcare and services. He noted that the pandemic can be a ‘game-changer’ for primary care services if there are investments to implement integrated, horizontal, community-based primary health-care systems and investment in the workforce as well as to create a new organisational and financial model based on the integration of health and social care.

The meeting then moved on to a discussion of the policy actions needed to help integrate health and social care to reduce the risk of disease outbreak. Neda Milevska, Board Vice-Chair of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organisations and Vice-President of Health First Europe, said the current pandemic has shown that health should be a priority and that patients should be at the centre of the health system. She highlighted that primary care services are at the frontline of every long-term condition and need support from the healthcare system and the society at large, including with digital solutions. She noted the role that patients can play in treating disease outbreaks both as a partner in shared decision-making or a co-creator in evidence-based solutions as well as a co-designer of holistic public health approaches.

The third speaker of the meeting was Anu Söderström, President of Occupational Therapy Europe, who described what occupational therapy can offer to the EU for Health Programme, specifically in terms of strengthening its health systems pillar. She noted that Occupational Therapy enhances the enablement of digital solutions to improve patients’ access to services, providing an example of how it can help those who live in remote areas through teletherapy. She highlighted that occupational therapy has a high client satisfaction, is cost-effective, and increases social participation, though she also noted that there is an unequal availability to such services. Finally, she stressed that there is a need to increase the digital skills of health professionals and patients, as well as increase patient access to tele-health solutions.

The last contribution was made by Professor Pedro Pita Barros, Member of the European Commission Expert Panel, on effective ways of investing in health. He presented the recently published Expert Panel opinion and how the Expert Group got its inspiration from existing approaches to the resilience of health systems. He noted that there are a number of shared concerns when talking about the resilience of health systems towards shocks, namely: their ability to look ahead, to absorb shocks and to adapt to them and their aptitude to learn from them. He added that there are some elements common to most countries: vulnerable groups were most affected by the pandemic. Non-Covid-19 care patients were harmed due to resources diverted to COVID-19 patients, and that will be pressure on mental health issues in the long-term. He stressed that there is a need to anticipate future disease outbreaks, be ‘prepared to prepare’ a response’ and adapt at short notice through the redesign of patient’ paths inside organisations and through telemedicine. He highlighted that there is a need to invest in training and resilience of the health workforce, ensure relevant data flows in a timely and organised way and pilot the resilience test toolkit provided by the Expert Panel Opinion.

In the ensuing debate, panellists agreed that:

  • social care, though not covered in the Expert Panel Opinion due to its focus on health systems, is crucial to tackling disease outbreaks.
  • when utilising digital tools, data security is also another primordial issue that needs to be tackled.
  • further resources should be provided for primary care workers as well as further training for healthcare workers to collaborate internationally; and that
  • a multi-faceted approach is needed to put prevention at the centre of European health systems and tackle future disease outbreaks.

You are able to access all speaker presentations here:

The DISH European Reference Group: A chat with Health First Europe

The DISH European Reference Group:

A chat with Health First Europe

This week, our Interim Executive Director, Brandon Mitchener, was interviewed by the DISH European Reference Group on our strategy to improve the digital skills of the health workforce.  The DISH project aims at strengthening the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff in their everyday practice and it has recently established a European Reference Group, composed of key stakeholders who are active and interested in the strengthening of health and social care workers’ digital skills.

You can see the whole interview in their website: here.

NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes new MEP supporter

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome a new MEP Supporter:

Victor Negrescu (S&D, Romania)

Learn more about our new MEP supporter:

Mr Negrescu is a Member of European Parliament since 2014 and served as Minister Delegate for European affairs in the government of Romania between 2017 and 2018. Since 2007, he is the president and national coordinator of the Romanian network of PES activists. As a member of the European Parliament, Negrescu sought to promote the Romanian IT sector and IT entrepreneurs, as well as to contribute to the development of the European digital sector.

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome the new MEP as a supporter and looks forward to future collaboration.

NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes new MEP supporter

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome a new MEP Supporter:

Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP, Spain)

Learn more about our new MEP supporter:

Ms Pilar del Castillo Vera is a Spanish politician, who was Minister for Education, Culture and Sport in the Spanish Government from 2000 to 2004 and has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. She has been serving as coordinator for the Group of the European People’s Party in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), and as substitute member in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome the new MEP as a supporter and looks forward to future collaboration.

NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes new MEP supporter

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome a new MEP Supporter:

István Ujhelyi (S&D, Hungary)

Learn more about our new MEP supporter:

Mr István Ujhelyi is a is a Hungarian politician, who was MP in the National Assembly of Hungary between 2002 and 2014 and has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2014, as vice chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the University of Szeged in 2002.

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome the new MEP as a supporter and looks forward to future collaboration.

NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes new MEP supporter

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome a new MEP Supporter:

Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé (EPP, France)

Learn more about our new MEP supporter:

Ms. Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé is a French lawyer and politician, who has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2019. She studied law at the Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, where she graduated from notarial law, before settling in Metz.

Health First Europe is pleased to welcome the new MEP as a supporter and looks forward to future collaboration.

NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes new MEP supporter

Health First Europe is delighted to welcome a new MEP Supporter:

Susana Solis Pérez (Renew Europe, Spain)

Learn more about our new MEP supporter:

Ms. Susana Solis Pérez is a Spanish politician, who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 2019. She has since been serving on the Committee on Regional Development. She is also a member of the European Internet Forum and the MEPs Against Cancer group.

Health First Europe is pleased to welcome the new MEP as a supporter and looks forward to future collaboration.

NEWS: Read HFE and Navarre (Spain) joint article on patient safety

Patient Safety

In the frame of the campaign for the Declaration for Patient Safety, Health First Europe collaborated with the Spanish region of Navarre to publish an article on the best practices for safety and quality of care at the regional level.

Navarre, one of the north regions of Spain, is strongly committed to promote patient safety. Its 2014-2020 health plan, establishes a strategy for patient safety in health centres, following the recommendations, based on evidence from the Spanish Ministry of Health.

You may find below the article in English and Spanish.

PUBLICATION: Read our Joint Call on Patient Safety and HAI Prevention and Control

Our Joint Call on Patient Safety and HAI Prevention and Control is out! 

A Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) is an infection occurring in a patient during the process of care in a hospital or in another healthcare facility which was not present or incubating at the time of admission. HAIs can affect patients in any type of health care setting in both hospital and long-term care facilities while receiving care, and can also appear after discharge, thus increasing the risk of spreading the infection within the community.

Following the Council Conclusions on the next steps towards making the EU a best practice region in combatting antimicrobial resistance and the resulting engagement of the EU institutions and Member States, we call on the European Commission to adopt a broad and coherent pan-European Infection Management Strategy addressing the health, social, economic and environment determinants, which influences infection diseases and considers the intrinsic links between antimicrobial resistance, prevention of HAIs and sepsis.