NEWS: HFE attends FACE Workshop of Health Inequalities: Fatal Determinants for Cancer Patients

Forum Against Cancer Europe (FACE) held a workshop in the European Parliament to discuss the need for policy in the arena of health inequalities as socioeconomic, educational, racial and legal social determinants continue to play a role in the access of patients to quality care throughout Europe. Chaired by MEP Petru Luhan (EPP, Romania), the panelists discussed how the EU institutions can contribute to modifying policy in this area and ensuring all EU Member States provide quality care regardless of social background.

Among the first panel of the workshop, Mr. Clive Needle of EuroHealthNet drew significant attention to the research undertaken both by the European Commission and by Sir Michael Marmot which clearly shows the need for policy addressing what he referred to as “the causes of the causes of ill health” in the EU. He argued for the social determinants approach of the European Commission which includes further investment in early years development, healthy ageing throughout life and sustainable development of health systems and securities. Mr. Arnaud Senn, Policy Officer in Healthcare Systems within DG EMPL, further illustrated the close connection between social inclusion/protection and poverty issues. He expressed that the Commission is currently working on determining the financial impact of long-term care on social protection so that health inequalities can be better tackled through policy. He also declared that the Commission has determined improving its knowledge base in this issue area and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups, are two of its top priorities.

The second panel of the conference looked at how health inequalities specifically affect cancer patients. However, Andrzej Rys of DG SANCO discussed how the European Commission is committed to protecting citizens from health inequalities regardless of their affliction. He also highlighted the need for developing the contribution of all policy across various sectors to health inequalities as the health of EU citizens impacts all areas of policymaking. Additionally, Professor Patricia Garcia Preito discussed the need for patient advocacy in assuring more equality of care for cancer patients.

Download here the event summary.

NEWS: Injury prevention top health priority under the Hungarian Presidency

The Hungarian Presidency took over the rotating presidency of the European Union from Belgium on 1st January this year. In terms of health priorities, the Hungarian Presidency’s overarching theme will focus on “Patient and Professional Pathways in Europe”. Under this comprehensive umbrella, the Hungarian Presidency is aiming to give priority to, among other things, “Action for Prevention” by organising an expert level conference on 30-31 May 2011, that will provide a forum for presenting and exchanging views on best practices, concrete actions, awareness raising campaigns and materials in Member States, which have proved to be successful in promoting a healthier lifestyle, especially among children and young people.

Building on the achievement of the Belgian Presidency’s work in regards to healthcare workers, one of the current presidency’s themes focuses on “Investing in the Health Care of the Future and Human Resources for Health”. During an informal health ministerial meeting, the Hungarian Presidency aims to raise issues like how the necessary knowledge-base, stock of experts, increased co-operation, joint research, exchange of information and best practices could be established to support Member State governments in their efforts to modernise their health care systems. eHealth has also become an essential keyword in modernising healthcare services. In this vein, the Hungarian Presidency is keen to promote the role of e-Health in cross-border care, in relieving workforce shortages and in IT support in health policy decision making is organising a Ministeral level conference in Budapest on 10-13 May.

Injury prevention, mental health and health security are other key issues to be address during the Hungarian leadership.

NEWS: Health First Europe attends European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing stakeholder meeting

Last Friday, 26 November 2010, the European Commission invited key health players such as public and private associations, companies, individuals and academia to participate in a multi-stakeholder meeting that aimed at seeking the views on how the EU can scale up innovation to meet the challenges of an ageing population and in particular to increase by two the average number of healthy life years for European citizens.

The kick off meeting of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on active and healthy ageing has received the support of three different Commissioners: John Dalli, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research. This is a strong message from the European Commission to commit to innovation.

Later in the day, and following the Council competitiveness meeting, EU Member States gave their support to the pilot European Innovation Partnership on active and healthy ageing. This Council support opened the European Commission’s open consultation on active and healthy ageing. Health First Europe will be contributing to this online consultation that will run till 28 January 2011.

For more information:

NEWS: HFE welcomes political agreement on cross-border directive

John Bowis welcomes political agreement on cross-border Directive.

Health First Europe’s Honorary President and former MEP rapporteur of the draft directive on patient’s rights in cross-border healthcare, John Bowis, welcomed the political agreement reached at the EPSCO council meeting of ministers on health and consumer’s policy yesterday. This agreement clears the way for a second reading at the European Parliament.

“As the former rapporteur on the cross-border directive, I am extremely happy about this agreement. This is a real step forward for patients in Europe and for our health policies. It has been worthwhile the wait”, said Bowis.

In Bowis’ view, “this political agreement is important not only because it puts health policy back on the European agenda but because during the negotiations politicians understood that values of quality and safety are of paramount importance for healthcare services in Europe.”

The compromise has been possible thanks to the efforts of the EU Spanish Presidency presented the European Health Ministers a compromise text on the draft directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare last week. The initiative aims at ensuring the right of patients to enjoy the same rights when receiving cross-border healthcare as they would have enjoyed if they had received comparable services in the Member State of affiliation.

NEWS: Strong views on the Late Payment Directive

Since the European Commission launched its small business act for Europe in 2008, several discussions have been going on concerning the thorny issue of late payment. Up to 80 per cent of the medical sector is composed of SMEs and late payment nowadays is a cause for disinvestment in research and development, and even bankruptcy. What does that mean for patients? It means that the know-how and expertise that comprise the core competence of each company is put in jeopardy even though there is demand for their services. This means that the products and services that those companies intend to develop for better treatment services will never be available because they cannot fund their business.

Read our news piece here.

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.