EVENT SUMMARY: What essential skills would the European health sector professionals need?

The EU Health Policy Platform Stakeholder Network on ‘Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the FutureReport was launched on 22 September 2022 in the European Parliament. The report tackles the question of what essential skills the European health workforce needs to cope with 21st century challenges such as demographic change, the increasing number of chronic and non-communicable diseases or the digital and green transitions.

The European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care gave a platform to the EU HPP Stakeholder Network to present its new report on essential skills for the European health workforce. The event was hosted by MEP Istvan Ujhelyi and was honoured to welcome representatives of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions for a panel discussion.

The European Institutional speakers highlighted the importance of data collection at the Member State and regional levels and quicker data availability, which probably the European Health Data Space (EHDS) could make feasible. Secondary data of the EHDS will be crucial for more effective health workforce planning. Up-to-date and more accurate information is also needed about cross-border collaboration. Evidence and data are crucial for decision-making at all levels.

Skills are essential but infrastructure development is also needed to make sure that citizens have access to equally high-quality of care not only in urban areas or in capitals but also in rural and remote areas. Around 50% of rural areas do not have broadband Internet connection although access to fast Internet would be the basis of digital tools and developing digitialised services. Without further investment into infrastructure development, the digital divide will but grow and together with the digital divide the digital skills divide will also intensify as well. Member States and regions have several funding opportunities to exploit from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Regional Development Funds and many others.

In their national Recovery and Resilience plans, all Member States have included developments in the area of health. Some Member States such as Italy, Austria and the Netherlands will specifically target skills development.

Besides the institutional speakers, two EU-funded projects also presented their relevant activities in line with the report’s recommendations. The EUVECA project will set up seven vocational excellence hubs in seven European regions which will collaborate in a European Platform. The vocational excellence hubs will be committed to enabling health professionals to embark on digital transformation and cope with the changes due to the adoption of digitised processes and digital technologies.

The BeWell project will facilitate the launch of the first skills partnership in the health ecosystem in the framework of the Pact for Skills initiative to build capacities for people working in the sector. Local, regional and national partnerships or individual organisations are encouraged to express their interest and commitment towards skills improvement.

As a next step, member organisations of the EU HPP Stakeholder Network under the leadership of EHMA and HFE will explore collaboration opportunities with European, national and regional level policy makers, will map other relevant initiatives to join forces and will seek synergies to support the implementation of the numerous recommendations they have included in the report.

Strengthening the resilience and skills of the future health workforce

The European Health Management Association (EHMA) and Health First Europe (HFE) are honoured to announce the launch of the report of the EU Health Policy Platform Stakeholder Network on ‘Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the Future’ on essential skills for a resilient and effective European health workforce.

The report was presented the 22nd of September at the meeting of the Innovation in Health and Social Care Interest Group in the European Parliament.

The report, through its recommendations addressing policymakers at European and national, regional, local level, aims to trigger change on the ground by raising awareness of the existing and foreseeable skills gaps of the European health workforce in the context of visible trends and challenges.

The Stakeholder Network co-moderated by EHMA and HFE has identified four skill areas pivotal to delivering better, more resilient, sustainable and effective person-centred care.

  1. digital, eHealth and AI skills;
  2. patient-centred communication skills;
  3. interdisciplinary and coordination skills;
  4. green skills.

The recommendations around these four skills areas highlight how the healthcare workforce can best be supported to acquire essential skills needed to cope with the main healthcare challenges of the 21st century. These include:

DIGITAL SKILLS: Up-scale and effectively integrate digital competencies, including eHealth and mHealth, into health professionals’ education and training programmes, as well as through lifelong learning, continuing professional development, staff exchange programmes, and pre-certification of medical societies. These programmes should include courses on big data processes and AI applications, and digital modules about the benefits of digital health tools. Pan-European digital academies should also be offered to clinicians. Promote regulatory skills for healthcare professionals to achieve better and safer care outcomes.

  • COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS: Incorporate effective and patient-centred communication in training programmes as well as in academic curricula across Europe including skills to nurture patient engagement. Focus on communication capacity with vulnerable groups and older persons.
  • INTERDISCIPLINARY AND COLLABORATION SKILLS: Assess and address the needs of educators delivering interdisciplinary and collaboration skills development as a foundation for enhancing this complex competency. Focus on adaptability in healthcare professionals’ education programmes. Provide possibilities for interdisciplinary education and certified training on inter-disciplinary management skills. Foster collaboration between healthcare professionals, technicians, including digital and environmental experts and administrative staff. Introduce simulation training methodologies which can be particularly useful and efficient to experiment interprofessional and interdisciplinary teamwork. Embrace the ‘one health’ approach in education.
  • GREEN SKILLS: Promote existing good practices and raise awareness of what green and sustainability skills mean and what new job positions will be needed. Enhance climate literacy and climate health literacy.

Any concrete actions around these four areas should be preceded by a large-scale and comprehensive data collection about health workforce skills needs allowing accurate planning and analysis. Two conditions have been emphasised around the recommended actions: a consistent overall approach and long-term sustainability. A strategy would be instrumental to ensure that the recommended actions do not remain isolated measures, but rather are implemented consistently over time. In order to secure long-term sustainability for the upskilling and reskilling actions, it is not only the healthcare professionals but also their educators who should be upskilled and reskilled and the educational and training institutions should be equipped with the necessary infrastructure and knowledge so that they can provide courses and training sessions continuously over time addressing large audiences in a tailored manner. It applies to all skills mentioned above but particularly to complex skills such as interprofessional and interdisciplinary teamwork.

Last but not least of all, top-down measures such as education reforms and prioritisation of health workforce skills development on the political agenda should be combined with a continuous engagement of healthcare professionals in monitoring and evaluating their performance and eventually developing training materials.

Read the report on Report of the EU HPP Stakeholder Network on ‘Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the Future’.

Also, please take a look at the EU HPP report infographic on Essential skills for a resilient and effective European health workforce.

Early diagnosis and screening save lives

What do COVID, diabetes and heart disease have in common? Despite COVID being communicable and diabetes and heart disease being chronic, non-communicable diseases, their treatment and health outcomes can both be dramatically improved by screening and early diagnosis.

As millions of people have experienced over the past two years, just a tiny sample of saliva or a nasal swab is enough to produce a clear indication of a disease, which, if caught early, creates an opportunity to treat it better and reduce its transmission. If such testing had been more routine, it could have helped prevent the spread of COVID and its variants and potentially saved thousands if not millions of lives worldwide.

While the science of testing and early diagnosis is clear, the public policy response unfortunately isn’t. Many governments still spend far more money on treatment of late-stage diseases that could have been mitigated if routine testing had identified them earlier in their evolution.

The global collective experience of COVID-19 shines a spotlight on the cruel failures of healthcare systems around the world to embrace routine testing for common diseases. The European Union, which has done a better job than some other regions in managing COVID, should maintain the positive momentum and high levels of public awareness and acceptance of routine screening to promote its use across the board.

Health First Europe (HFE) has a track record of contributing to the improvement of European healthcare systems for more than 16 years. We encourage health stakeholders and policymakers to develop and implement better plans, including investing in programmes promoting screening and early diagnosis across a wide range of disease areas.

Last September, HFE published a report, The Compelling Case for Better Screening and Patient Safety in Europe: The Example of Five Common Diseases, which emphasised the value of improved screening programmes in five chronic diseases: breast cancer; type 2 diabetes, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR); heart failure; and severe combined immunodeficiencies (SCID). The report provided case studies for each of the diseases, which together aggect millions of European lives.

Right across Europe there are many national success stories and examples of best-practice that should be replicated and implemented more widely to deliver tangible benefits without starting the process from scratch. Tackling NCDs such as diabetes and CVDs will not only be beneficial for the millions of people directly affected but will also have a positive impact on the EU’s long-term social and economic strength.

We know these chronic conditions will continue to affect millions of people in Europe and further stretch our healthcare systems and economies to their limits well beyond the current pandemic. To mitigate this, political and financial support at the EU level could provide vital reinforcement to national efforts to deliver best-practice health and social care for the benefit of EU citizens’ health and well-being.

Strong action on NCDs would also help ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen Europe’s future pandemic preparedness and resilience.

Last year’s report makes clear that screening and early diagnosis are essential to better managing several diseases and underlines the major role of screening and early diagnosis in helping patients live longer and better lives.

In the context of the European Commission’s Initiative on Non-communicable Diseases, together with Health First Europe, we particularly encourage EU and national health authorities to implement the following actions

  1. Integrating primary and secondary preventive strategies through comprehensive approaches to support the implementation of best practices and to minimise current health inequalities;
  2. Encouraging participation in population-based screening programmes in high-risk populations to help detect disease early, leading to faster, more precise, accessible and affordable screening and early detection;
  3. Promoting public awareness programmes to help citizens recognise signs and symptoms of preventable diseases or conditions and understand the importance of seeking screening and early diagnosis;
  4. Ensuring that care is multidisciplinary, and that delivery is timely to empower patients with care options while guaranteeing quality;
  5. Providing patients and healthcare providers with objective and independent guidance on screening and diagnoses in the context of the new EU-supported Cancer Screening scheme put forward by the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan;
  6. Continuing investment in training for highly qualified specialists critical to quality-of-care screening and care;
  7. Encouraging the digitalisation of health services across Member States and the adoption of new medical technologies allowing for more effective monitoring and action to reduce the risk of complications and improve quality of life;
  8. Setting up a robust information system to ensure information sharing between providers and across levels of care;
  9. Ensuring patients timely, equitable access to diagnostic services and treatment through appropriate reimbursement procedure in all relevant settings;
  10. Developing an EU-wide strategy for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease screening, diagnosis, and secondary prevention, encouraging the use of common screening tools across Europe to promote the exchange of data and best practices.

Health First Europe will continue to call for more action on screening and diagnosis, as well as on secondary prevention. This is a health and social imperative because these offer improved patient safety and quality of care in healthcare settings as well as better quality of life for all in the face of growing public health challenges.

If you wish to engage, please send an email to secretariat@healthfirsteurope.org

The European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance announces its new visual identity and website

Press release

Brussels, 28 June 2022

The European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance is happy to announce its new visual identity and its new website: amrpatientgroup.eu. Given the growth of the group in the past few months with new patient organisations joining it from all over Europe, we are excited to present a new rebranding to consolidate their work.

The patient group, through its various advocacy and communication activities, will continue to advocate for effective measures to address the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance. Our recent contribution to the European Commission’s Call for Evidence for a Recommendation for Further Action on Antimicrobial Resistance summarises our main policy proposals, that include raising awareness about AMR and healthcare-associated-infections (HAIs), improving infection prevention and control measures, empowering patients through stewardship programmes, and investing in medical technologies to prevent AMR and HAIs.

To ensure action is taken at every governance level in Europe, we are organising a Parliamentary Roundtable Debate in October with stakeholders from the EU institutions, member states, healthcare professionals and, most importantly, patient representatives. It will be titled “Engaging with patients and closing knowledge gaps to fight antimicrobial resistance: the role in infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship” and will be a hybrid event to boost participation and availability so any person can follow it. More information on this will be coming soon and we look forward to putting together this exciting event.

About the European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance

The first European AMR Patient Group was officially launched on the 18th November 2020 to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2020 and World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November). The AMR Patient Group is an initiative by Health First Europe and is comprised of national patient associations from across Europe. The group aims to address the gap in awareness at the patient-level about the danger of antibiotic misuse and the lack of effective infection prevention measures. The AMR Patient Group will empower patients across Europe with the necessary knowledge about antimicrobial resistance so that everyone understands when it is appropriate to take antibiotics and how to take them responsibly.

If you are interested in our activities or want to join the European AMR Patient Group, please contact us at secretariat@healthfirsteurope.org

Join our members events!

 

Join our members events!

As the summer approaches, Brussels is becoming full of events in the health space. Many of them are being organised by Health First Europe members.

Here are some of them to which we definitely recommend you to attend!

This event will take place on 30 May, 19:00 – 20:00 CEST.

This EFORT Educational Webinar will focus on the current debate on the best alignment strategy to adopt when performing total knee arthroplasty.

The virtual event will be held online on 10 June from 11:00 to 13:00.

The event aims at giving the participant a global outlook on European policies for health and life sciences.

The conference will take place on 11-14 June in Vienna, Austria (hybrid conference).

The ESHG Conference has two main scopes: to provide a platform for the dissemination of the most exciting advancements in the field of human genetics and to foster the education of the upcoming generation of human geneticists.

The 2022 HIMSS European Health Conference & Exhibition brings the European healthcare community back together in Helsinki, Finland from 14 to 16 June 2022.

The Conference will take place in Brussels, Belgium on 15-17 June 2022.

The conference will bring together key healthcare stakeholders providing the latest evidence to guide the much-needed transformation of health systems. It will support managers and health systems to excel in a time where the complexity of the challenge ahead is immense.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday 15 June, 13:00 – 14:00 (CEST).

The discussion will explore how health systems can turn the recommendations in the latest European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines into national-level actions that address the impact of heart failure.

The webinar will take place on 16 June, 15:00 UTC.

This annual meeting will take place in Lisbon, Portugal from 22 to 24 June 2022.

The annual meeting of EFORT is the largest platform for European Orthopaedics to exchange knowledge and experience within Europe but also with colleagues from other parts of the world.

This event will take place in Vienna on 23-25 June.

The CEDA 2022 Congress Vienna will bring you the state-of-the-art of clinical diabetology in stimulating formats that will significantly advance patient management.

The event will take place on 24-25 June in Ghent, Belgium.

The event will take place online from 27 June to 1 July 2022.

The 11th European Conference on Rare Diseases is the largest, patient-led rare disease policy conference, which has been designated as an official event of the 2022 French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

It is due to happen on the 24th to 25th of June 2022 in the Augustinian Monastery in Ghent

This event will take place on the 7th of July 2022 from 14.30 to 16.00 CEST

The initiative will allow discussion of the EU Institutions’ commitment to Adult Vaccination.

This event is due to happen from 9 to 13 July in London.

It will be the most important international meeting of the year in the field of thrombosis and hemostasis.

Sara Cerdas becomes HFE’s newest MEP supporter

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

Sara Cerdas (S&D, Portugal)

Health First Europe is pleased to welcome MEP Cerdas as a new supporter and looks forward to future collaborations in the field of public health. In fact, Sara Cerdas is a great defender of the health of all Europeans. She focuses her interest in different topics, including antimicrobial resistance, and has also joined the newly formed Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about her:

Sara Cerdas is a Portuguese medical doctor and, since July of 2019, a Member of the European Parliament. She is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and the Special Committee on COVID-19 (COVI). Sara Cerdas is the co-chair of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Health, which brings to discussion European health issues with different stakeholders and experts. She was vice-president of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA). She holds a master’s degree in Medicine from the University of Lisbon, a postgraduate degree in traveler’s medicine from NOVA University Lisbon, a master’s degree in Public Health from the Umeå University and is a doctoral student in Public Health Sciences at the University of Stockholm.

We look forward to future collaborations with her and her team.

NEWS: A call for action on screening and secondary prevention

Health First Europe welcomes the ‘Healthier Together – EU Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) Initiative’ to support Member States address the raising challenges posed by NCDs, which have been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this EU NCD initiative, Health First Europe would like to make a strong call for action on screening and diagnosis, as well as secondary prevention as these offer an unequivocal societal value for improving patient safety, the quality of care in healthcare settings, and people’s general quality of life. Regular exams and screening can detect disease in its earliest stages, dramatically increasing the likelihood of preventing disease progression and reducing the risk of related complications and co-morbidities.

Last September, Health First Europe launched a comprehensive report on ‘The Compelling Case for Better Screening and Secondary Prevention in Europe: Lessons from Five Representative Diseases’ in order to highlight the value of screening and secondary prevention for improving patient safety, the quality of care in healthcare settings, and quality of life across Europe. The report outlines the value of action in the area of screening and secondary prevention as well as best practices and policy recommendations for five chronic disease areas, including those of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which are part of the current EU NCD initiative.

Europe has many national success stories that could be copied and implemented more widely in other regions and member states without re-inventing the wheel. Tackling NCDs such as diabetes and CVDs is not only essential for the millions of people affected but also for the EU’s long-term social and economic strength. Strong action on NCDs would furthermore complement the ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen Europe’s future pandemic preparedness and resilience. As these chronic conditions will continue to affect millions of people in Europe and stretch our healthcare systems and economies to their limits and well beyond the current pandemic, political, strategic, and financial support at EU level could provide vital reinforcement to national efforts to deliver best-practice health and social care for the benefit of people’s health and well-being.

Based on the case studies and recommendations set out for diabetes and CVDs in the HFE Insight Report, Health First Europe calls on EU and national health authorities to consider meaningful political action for screening and secondary prevention with the aim of saving and improving citizens’ lives while ensuring the sustainability of our healthcare systems in the face of growing public health challenges and threats.

EU and national actions should include:

  1. Integrating primary and secondary preventive strategies through comprehensive approaches to support the implementation of best practices and to minimise current health inequalities;
  2. Encouraging participation in population-based screening programmes in high-risk populations to help detect disease early, leading to faster, more precise, accessible and affordable screening and early detection;
  3. Promoting public awareness programmes to help citizens recognise signs and symptoms of preventable diseases or conditions and understand the importance of seeking screening and early diagnosis;
  4. Ensuring that care is multidisciplinary, and that delivery is timely to empower patients with care options while guaranteeing quality;
  5. Providing patients and healthcare providers with objective and independent guidance on screening and diagnoses in the context of the new EU-supported Cancer Screening scheme put forward by the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan;
  6. Continuing investment in training for highly qualified specialists critical to quality-of-care screening and care;
  7. Encouraging the digitalisation of health services across Member States and the adoption of new medical technologies allowing for more effective monitoring and action to reduce the risk of complications and improve quality of life;
  8. Setting up a robust information system to ensure information sharing between providers and across levels of care;
  9. Ensuring patients timely, equitable access to diagnostic services and treatment through appropriate reimbursement procedure in all relevant settings;
  10. Developing an EU-wide strategy for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease screening, diagnosis, and secondary prevention, encouraging the use of common screening tools across Europe to promote the exchange of data and best practices.

More detailed information can be found in the HFE Insight Report on ‘Better Screening and Secondary Prevention in Europe’. This contribution was supported by additional evidence-based recommendations provided by and under the remit of individual members of Health First Europe, such as the Heart Failure Policy Network and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Europe.

A community-based survey of the general public’s knowledge, behaviour and awareness related to antimicrobial resistance

The members of the European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR Patient Group), are truly committed to raising awareness about the real-world impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Consequently, we strive to help reduce the inappropriate use of existing antibiotics, promote antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention and control measures across Europe, and develop novel antibiotics where needed.

The European AMR Patient Group has developed a pan-European survey to assess the level of knowledge and awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and health-associated infections (HAIs) among 5 European countries, namely Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK. 

The survey has close-ended questions and it will take only 15 minutes to be completed.

The overarching objective of this questionnaire is to arm all European citizens with the necessary knowledge about antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections to ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics as well as the knowledge of other existing tools that can prevent, monitor, detect and diagnose infections.

The AMR Patient Group kindly invites you to reply to and increase participation in the survey among your network. Although voluntary, the participation of patient representatives based in the afore-mentioned countries will be highly appreciated and will enrich the results in a meaningful way.

Please find the links to fill in the survey as follows

Kindly note that all contributions to this survey will be treated anonymously and in full compliance with the GDPR.

It is now more urgent than ever to step up actions to prevent HAIs and the related development of AMR throughout the patient journey.

To learn more, please find our 2021 Declaration on AMR and infographics here.

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

EDITORIAL: European AMR Patient Group Scales up Education and Outreach on Antimicrobial Resistance

Patient safety is an essential metric when it comes to building resilient public healthcare systems both at the European and global level. It is also indispensable in the provision of health care in all settings including hospitals and long-term care facilities. The lack of proper adherence to patient safety manuals undermines public confidence and trust in health systems, increases mortality and morbidity due to unsafe care, and increases the burden on the public purse in terms of healthcare costs. Unfortunately, patient harm resulting from safety lapses, though avoidable in most cases, is a growing canker that threatens global public health. Safety lapses lead to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which result in prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability and high costs for patients, family and healthcare providers.

Health First Europe and the members of the European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR Patient Group) are committed to raising awareness about the real-world impact of antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) that have become a bane for individual and public health. The HFE-led initiative’s overarching objectives are to help reduce the inappropriate use of existing antibiotics, promote antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention and control measures across Europe, and develop novel antibiotics where needed. The AMR Patient Group empowers patients across Europe with the necessary knowledge about antimicrobial resistance so that everyone understands when it is appropriate to take antibiotics and how to take them responsibly by addressing the gap in awareness at the patient level about the danger of antibiotic misuse and the lack of effective infection prevention measures.

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) estimates that a total of 8.9 million HAIs occur each year in European hospitals and long-term care facilities combined, with more than half of certain HAIs considered preventable.[1] HAIs represent a common pathway that often leads to sepsis, which in turn contributes to approximately 37,000 deaths directly resulting from HAIs. This is devasting for patients and caregivers alike.

HAI prevention and control is a core element in tackling AMR. HAIs are often caused by resistant bacteria, but the occurrence of an infection in the first place may also increase the risk of developing resistant strains. Even though antibiotics have played a central role in the treatment of human infections, the lack of awareness on the general health risk associated with the excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics menaces public health and patient safety. Antimicrobial resistance alone is responsible for approximately 33,000 deaths per year in the EU and is estimated to cost the EU €1.5 billion annually in healthcare costs and productivity losses. These figures and the general trend paint a bleak picture of the public health system. The situation is dire.

AMR will likely increase through the heavy use of antibiotics in COVID-19 patient treatment. Hence, the importance of diagnosing and implementing digital technologies, encouraging behavioural compliance in hand hygiene, checklists and safety protocols, and promoting the optimal prescription and sustainable use of antibiotics. As a result, there should be stronger preparedness for our healthcare systems and timely responses to this public health challenge.

Going forward we face an urgent need to arm ourselves with effective tools to improve patient safety in all healthcare settings. “In order to effectively fight healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance, there is a need to not just raise awareness and promote education, but, rather, a new paradigm shift – one that is patient-centered. The genesis of the European Patient Group on Antimicrobial Resistance is in line with this patient-centered paradigm shift as it includes many active patient groups coming from all over Europe,” says Ms Laura Cigolot, coordinator of the AMR Patient Group.

On 7 April 2021, the group launched a Declaration on AMR, calling on European and national authorities to commit to a full range of interventions in the field of education, prevention and investment. Currently, the AMR Patient Group is undertaking a major pan-European survey to assess awareness and knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and HAIs among the general public in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The findings of this questionnaire will be collected in five national reports which will be used to identify best practices and address current gaps in the implementation of national action plans on AMR.

It is now more urgent than ever to step up actions to prevent HAIs and the related development of antimicrobial resistance throughout the patient journey.

[1] ECDC, 2018. “Infographic: Healthcare-associated infections – a threat to patient safety in Europe”.

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: