01 September 2015
- Inequalities, - Healthcare

On the 2nd of July, EFA contributed to the European Patient Forum (EPF) conference on Cross-Border Healthcare an event that followed the discussions on the implementation of the “directive on the applications of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare” (CBHC directive).

Given the complexity of cross-border healthcare across the Europen Union, the event served to discuss about what information needs to be shared with patients to enable access to health care in another country, how to warranty quality and safety of care and how to ensure reimbursement and equity of access.

The discussions led to note that the unequal transposition of the directive at national level has created significant gaps in the functioning of National Contact Points (NCP) across EU countries. Moreover, financial barriers (such as inequalities on reimbursement) are posing a major threat to equity of access to quality care across the EU, leaving many patients unable to afford cross-border healthcare, despite being a need. Patient organisations have then asked EU Member States and NCPs to alleviate the financial burden on patients, especially the less well-off.

Another challenge that patients face is a difficult to navigate system that leaves them often with complex information. Participants recommended to the EU to guidelines on how NCPs should provide information in patient friendly ways.

Lastly, participants suggested to set quality and safety standards, as they are not defined in the directive. They recognised that patient organisations can have valuable input to compare standards across countries. This will also allow patient organisations to advocate for better quality healthcare in their country and the EU.

The event made clear there is a need to ensure fair transposition and implementation of the directive for Member States and patients. The Commission representative recognised that patients’ organisations and other relevant stakeholders have an important role in identifying the needs and gaps in the implementation and in proposing potential solutions. The European Commission will publish a report in autumn on the implementation of the directive.

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