NEWS: Health First Europe welcomes two new appointments within the European Commission

Health First Europe welcomes the two new appointments within the European Commission.

Paola Testori-Coggi, the former deputy head of DG SANCO, has been appointed Director General. She will replace Robert Madelin who will be moving to take the leadership role of DG Information Society.

Ms Testori-Coggi will be overseeing the overall Health policy at the European Commission. She has been a Commission official since 1983 and has worked for more than 20 years in the institutions. Previously, she has worked in the cabinet of two different European Commissioners dealing with health and research policies.

In the past 6 years, Mr Madelin’s commitment and interest in healthcare have been tremendously important for stakeholders from the health sector especially HFE. We have truly appreciated his efforts to push new initiatives forward and congratulate him on his achievements.

In his new capacity of Director General of DG Infso, Mr Madelin will focus on the European digital agenda including e-health issues.

Nelly Kroes, the Dutch Commissioner in charge of this portfolio, was asked in her mandate letter from Commission President Barroso to “exploit the potential of ICT as a major enabling technology for raising productivity and addressing long-term challenges such as energy efficiency and healthcare”.

Health First Europe looks forward to continuing working with both of them and wishes them all the best in their new roles.

NEWS: HFE welcomes Directive on prevention from sharp injuries

Brussels, 8 March 2010 – Health First Europe (HFE) welcomes the adoption, at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), of the Council Directive implementing the Framework Agreement on the prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare. This Directive implements the Framework Agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector signed by the European social partners HOSPEEM and EPSU on 17 July 2009, which is an annex to the Directive.

For the last five years, HFE has been campaigning and assisting EU policy makers with the goal of ensuring that effective binding measures are agreed to ensure that healthcare workers across Europe are protected from injuries with used needles and other medical sharps that can lead to potentially fatal blood borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

John Bowis, HFE’s honorary president stated, “This Directive is an example of how policy makers and social partners have successfully worked together to improve health worker and patient safety. I am extremely satisfied to see that all the energy put into the process has come to a more than satisfactory end.”

Bowis added that “the European Parliament has played a pivotal role in driving this initiative. This has included the July 2006 Parliament Report and Resolution, calling for a legislative proposal, under the rapporteurship of Stephen Hughes MEP, and the more recent February 2010 Resolution on the proposed Directive, where the rapporteur was another very important HFE supporter, Liz Lynne MEP. These two MEP’s, with the support of colleagues, have campaigned tirelessly to get adequate protection for Europe’s healthcare workers.

Liz Lynne commented:

There are over 1 million preventable needlestick injuries across the EU each year, which create a terrible physical and psychological burden on the workers affected and their families, but also a massive cost to the health system and society at large.

These new laws will bring improved working practices and the mandatory use of medical devices that incorporate needle protection, vital changes I have campaigned to achieve for many years.

For too long our healthcare workers, who are focused on improving the health and well being of others, have themselves been exposed to the daily threat of life threatening infections, the majority of which are avoidable.

Stephen Hughes added:

For many years the European Parliament has been pushing for European-wide mandatory needlestick and sharps protection requirements to be incorporated in a Directive, as the existing worker safety legislation has clearly not been effective in this case.”

I have been committed to improving the protection of healthcare workers from needlestick injuries ever since I and some of my colleagues were visited in the European Parliament by healthcare workers from across Europe on World AIDS Day 2004 during an event organised by Health First Europe.

For more information:
Patricia Lamas Sánchez
Tel: +32 (0) 2 626 19 99
E-mail :

Notes to Editors

Needlestick injuries are the most common and dangerous form of medical sharps injuries. Whenever a hollow-bore needle is used on a patient there is a risk of a needlestick injury that could lead to a serious infection of a healthcare worker, because the hollow-bore acts as a reservoir for the patient’s blood and other bodily fluids. Surprisingly small amounts of blood can lead to a serious infection. The highest risk procedures include blood collection, IV cannulation and percutaneously placed syringes.

NEWS: Information to patients and for consumers will be Health Commissioner Priorities

The European Commissioner designate for Health and Consumer Policy, the Maltese John Dalli faced a public hearing on Thursday 14th January by the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) in association with the EP Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. The EP Agriculture and Rural Development Committee were also represented. MEP’s focused their questioning on patient rights, the pharmaceutical package, legislation on food derived from cloned animals, genetically modified organisms, the proposal on food information for consumers, protection of children and the question of collective redress.

Mr Dalli stressed during his intervention that if finally elected, he will be working to empower patients and consumers and ensure that they are better informed on their decisions. He also expressed concern about the sustainability of the health sector and on health inequalities across the European Union. He referred to the European Union’s limitations on health and stressed that it is up to Member States to develop and implement health policies but he ensured that where EU can play a role to improve people’s lives, he will be working on that.

Asked about the ongoing Cross-Border directive that failed to reach a political agreement among Member States last December and at present has been suggested to be withdrawn, he replied by saying that he expects to be working with the current EU Presidency to try to move forward this initiative and reach a political agreement during his mandate. Concerning the pharma package, Mr Dalli stated that he aims at a more patient orientated approach that “brings more patient perspective” into the current proposals. He intends to work on moving forward with the two non controversial points of the current proposed legislation on pharmaceuticals and, is willing to leave the discussion on patient information to another time.

Simultaneously he reassured the stakeholders that the medical industry should remain competitive and this will also be in his mind during the mandate. In essence, Mr Dalli convened the message “Consumers first, Patients first” showing plenty of motivation and initiative to begin office. Parliamentary hearings will continue until the end of next week and the European Parliament will carry out its vote on 26 January. If the Commissioners are appointed with no further delays, the European Commission should be able to start the new mandate during the first week of February.

NEWS: HFE has launched a feedback survey

HFE has launched a feedback survey on the 30 September 2009 European Parliament Training Event. This survey aims to collect information and peer evaluations on HFE work as well as suggestions for future activities.

The consultation is now closed.

EXHIBITION: HFE to raise awareness on quality and safety at an exhibition in the European Parliament

Throughout the week of 5-9 January 2009, Health First Europe (HFE) is holding an exhibition in the European Parliament, in Brussels, under the patronage of MEP Elizabeth Lynne, with the aim of raising awareness on the quality and safety of patients and health care workers in Europe.

MEP Lynne stressed that “Health First Europe is a hugely important organisation doing fantastic work in helping represent the opinions and needs of patients, healthcare professionals and medical academics and experts from across the European Union (…) I am very pleased to be sponsoring their exhibition and I hope that it will have a significant impact in helping raise awareness of the good work they do and of the important issues affecting healthcare in Europe”.

“While healthcare is not a direct competence of the EU, nor in my opinions should it be, it is crucial that all EU Member States continue to work together to improve healthcare in every European country and I hope that Health First Europe will continue to play a pivotal role in helping the EU in this endeavour”, she said.

NEWS: Health First Europe to held its New Horizons Congress: Tackling the healthcare challenges of today for a healthier tomorrow

Health First Europe is glad to announce the date of its Health First Europe New Horizons Congress: Tackling the healthcare challenges of today for a healthier tomorrow.

It will be held on Wednesday, 12th November 2008in the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.

The Congress will be attended by several high profile speakers and bring together stakeholders from all healthcare sectors.

The future of European healthcare will be discussed from three different perspectives, i.e. patients, healthcare workers and the medical technology industry.

More information about the Congress and the detailed programme will be available during the course of the year.

Although attendance for this event is by invitation only, please email us at if you wish to participate.

NEWS: David Byrne, Patron of Health First Europe, welcomes adoption of cross-border healthcare directive

David Byrne, the Patron of Health First Europe and former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomes the adoption of the proposal for Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.

In a statement he said: “HFE welcomes the adoption by the College of Commissioners of the long awaited draft proposal for a Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. HFE is a firm supporter of patients’ mobility throughout Europe and has been promoting equal access to medical care and innovation, regardless the patient’s nationality, since its creation. HFE particularly welcomes the European Commission stance to ensure high standards for patient safety and quality of care in every Member States. Finally, HFE would like to encourage the development of cooperation between Member States regarding eHealth, data collection and health technology assessment and particularly supports the European Commission’s proposal in this respect”.

For more information about the Directive, please click here.

NEWS: HFE MEP supporter Liz Lynne calls for better protection from needlestick injuries and HAIs

On 25 June 2008, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs called for better protection of healthcare workers against needlestick and medical sharp injuries as well as better protection of patients and healthcare workers from healthcare-associated infections. This call took the form of two amendments, tabled by HFE MEP supporter Liz Lynne, to the Employment Committee’s opinion on the EU Health Strategy “Together for Health: A strategic approach for the EU 2008 – 2013”.

The complete report is to be adopted by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on 9 September and will be discussed in plenary on 8 October. The Health Strategy provides a general framework for all European Commission activities in the health policy field for its next term.

NEWS: Social Affairs Council of the EU adopts conclusions on antimicrobial resistance

At its meeting on 9 and 10 June the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of the European Union (EPSCO) adopted conclusions on antimicrobial resistance. The Council shows a high awareness for the problem of healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) and calls on the European Commission and EU Member States to take further actions in this policy field. Concrete recommendations concern the exchange of best practices, the improvement of surveillance systems and further support for research initiatives.

Next steps in this policy field are a technical workshop on antimicrobial resistance in Paris on 6 and 7 November 2008, organised by France, and a European Antibiotics Awareness Day on 18 November. Furthermore the European Commission is expected to publish its’ recommendation on healthcare-associated infections at the end of the year. The Czech Republic, which will take over the EU presidency in January 2009, will also be organising a conference with the aim to formulate basic standards for hospitals’ antimicrobial programmes in the first half of 2009.

To read the complete Council resolution, please click here.

NEWS: HFE responds to the European Commission’s Consultation on Patient Safety

On 20 May 2008, Health First Europe replied to the European Commission’s Consultation on Patient Safety.

HFE welcomes the European Commission’s goal of increasing patient safety in the EU by consulting health stakeholders and civil society. HFE is now looking forward to the upcoming European Commission Communications on Patient Safety and on Healthcare Associated Infections, which are expected towards the end of 2008.

Download below HFE response to the consultation.

NEWS: The European Commission publishes study on long-term care

On 28 April, the European Commission published a study on long term care in the European Union. The study analyses the current situation of long term care in the EU and explores its future development. In light of the increase of people aged 80 and over from 18 million in 2004 to over 50 million in 2050, the European Commission identified a preference for home and community based care for older people over institutionalized care. The study also highlights the challenge the European Union is facing in terms of ensuring access for all to long-term care services.

NEWS: HFE response to the European Commission’s consultation on healthcare-associated infections

On 20 January 2006, Health First Europe submitted its response to the European Commission’s consultation on healthcare related infections (HAI).

HFE highlighted the need for:

  • Co-ordination and exchange of best practices in the Member States’ efforts to control healthcare-associated infections
  • Promotion of better education and training at Member States level
  • Increased use of medical innovation designed to improve safety.

NEWS: David Byrne has become a Patron of Health First Europe

Below Former EU Health Commissioner Byrne’s statement to HFE’s members:

“I am pleased and honoured to become a Patron of Health First Europe. The formation of this new health organisation, Health First Europe, with the main aim of promoting access for patients to effective modern and affordable healthcare is well timed.

The combined impacts of enlargement, demographics and medical innovation require policy developments and legal solutions to ensure that patients’ access to health is promoted and protected. The skills and experience of the combined membership of HFE together with its vision can lead to the achievement of these aims.

I am grateful for the opportunity to assist this important work.”

David Byrne served as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection from 1999 to 2004. Also he was 26th Attorney General of Ireland from 1997 to 1999 and  Chancellor of Dublin City University from 2006 to 2011. Under his leadership as EU Commissioner, the European Union created the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in 2004 aiming to protect citizens with better protection for any diseases and future epidemics.

NEWS: Health First Europe organises exhibition on the latest innovative medical technology in the European Parliament

Health First Europe, an alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics, experts and industry which aims to ensure that equitable access to modern, innovative and reliable medical technology and healthcare is regarded as a vital investment in the future of Europe held an exhibition in the European Parliament in Brussels from 20-23 June 2005. In order to highlight just what innovative medical technology can do, HFE gave visitors the opportunity to learn about treatments which exist in various fields of healthcare, but more importantly, highlighted that not all European have access to the same treatments, asking why this is so and whether EU decision makers can look at the need to increase investment in innovation and patient safety.

Visitors to the exhibition were given the opportunity to:

  • Try their hand at being a heart surgeon with the virtual reality cath lab
  • Do their own keyhole surgery on the computer assisted surgery platform
  • Have their arm bandaged in the latest synthetic cast system
  • Learn how technology has provided a breakthrough in the treatment of obesity
  • See how pacemakers have developed from 1958 right up until today
  • Undergo on the spot diagnostic testing to find out about the condition of their liver and kidneys.

Throughout the four days a total of 450 participants visited the exhibition, including 80 members of the European Parliament. Meetings were set up with 10 MEPs involved in debating the Commission’s Programme of Community Health and Consumer Protection (2007-2013) and the 7th Research Framework Programme. In addition, HFE members met with 3 European commission officials dealing with key aspects of health and research policy.

NEWS: World AIDS day – Europe’s healthcare workers at risk

Today, on World AIDS day, Health First Europe (HFE) held a special event in the European Parliament to raise awareness amongst decision makers and the public about the risks of sharps’ injuries to healthcare workers and the risk of infection with HIV, Hepatitis or other fatal infections. HFE urgently calls for supplementary safety requirements to address this public health issue.

Nurses, doctors and other medical staff in the EU are exposed to highly elevated levels of risk, a fact which is all too often ignored. It is estimated that 1 million injuries from needles or other sharp medical devices are suffered by healthcare workers across the European Union each year. More than 20 dangerous blood-borne pathogens are transmitted by contaminated needles, including Hepatitis and HIV. If injured by a contaminated needle, the chances of becoming infected are as high as 1 in 3 for Hepatitis B, 1 in 30 for Hepatitis C and 1 in 300 for HIV.

At invitation from Health First Europe (HFE), nurses from eight European countries today met with MEPs at the European Parliament to discuss the risk of needlestick injuries and the threat that they face at the workplace every day. Existing European worker safety legislation has effectively done little to protect healthcare workers from needlesticks and other medical sharps and from accidental infection. Yet, more than 80% of such injuries can be prevented through a combination of training, safer working practices and the use of medical devices incorporating needlestick protection technology, as independent studies show.

“The fact that one million sharps’ injuries occur in the EU every year, not counting an estimated 60-80% of unreported incidents, is a clear sign that not enough is being done to protect our healthcare workers from injuries”, said Ria von Bönninghausen of the Standing Committee of Nurses to the EU and associate member of Health First Europe. “We want European worker safety and health directives amended and we want national authorities to be stricter in the implementation of these directives, across the EU”.

Health First Europe (HFE) fully supports recommendations made by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work that aim at implementing the use of devices with safety features, modifying work practices and training workers in the safe use and disposal of needles . However, HFE also calls on the European Commission to work towards amending existing legislation, to include specific requirements to protect healthcare workers from sharps’ injuries. “We specifically suggest the inclusion of an additional annex to Directive 2000/54/EC, concerning biological agents. Given the seriousness of the situation, we believe that we need additional legal requirements for the management of risk in the healthcare context”, commented Imelda Read, Honorary Chairperson of HFE.

But where the European Commission has a decisive role to play in developing the legal framework for a better protection of healthcare workers, EU Member States are equally called upon to consistently apply and enforce the highest standards of safety. Where sharps’ injuries are concerned, the level of protection provided for healthcare workers across the EU varies greatly. The adoption in recent years of specific protection measures in countries such as France, Germany or Spain has been an encouraging development. However, Health First Europe (HFE) warns that sufficient protection measures are not being implemented, or are not even being considered, by the majority of healthcare providers across the EU.

“Action must be taken now to reduce the risks of sharp’s injuries to healthcare workers across the EU”, says Bert Van Caelenberg, Secretary General of Eurofedop, the European Federation of Public Service Employees, and member of Health First Europe. “It is the responsibility of the EU Member States but also of the European Commission to ensure that no disparity exists in the protection provided to our workers, anywhere in the EU”.