ERNs Multi-Stakeholder Forum to Enhance Patients' Rights and to Enhance Cooperation on Cross-border Healthcare
Directive 2011/24/EU4 established a comprehensive set of patients’ rights regarding access to health services in the EU. However, reports from both public actors (including the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors) and private entities agree that the overall impact of such legislation on patients is still too limited. Until today, in the EU only 2% of citizens have planned treatment abroad. However, if properly adopted, the Directive can help reduce health inequalities not only among the Member States but within each country, benefitting the remaining 98% of the EU population.
Against this background, the new EU4Health 2021-2027 program aims to boost the EU’s preparedness for major cross-border health threats and, among other things, will try to expand successful initiatives like the European Reference Networks for rare diseases and continue to pursue international cooperation on global health threats and challenges. This will necessarily require a broader involvement of the actors engaged in cross-border healthcare. Given that the Directive’s success depends highly on citizens being aware of their rights, it will be necessary to put citizens at the heart of decision-making by complementing the existing channels of engagement.
Consequently, Active Citizenship Network, the EU branch of the Italian NGO Cittadinanzattiva – a civic organization engaged in the protection of citizens’ rights and the promotion of civic participation in public policy since 1978 – makes the ensuing proposals: on one side, it proposes an integration of different European policies (which may end up being also a cost-effective and cost-efficient strategy); on the other side, the establishment of a multi-stakeholder forum for each European Reference Network (ERN). These proposals are under close examination of the European Commission that closed the public consultation “Cross-border healthcare – evaluation of patients’ rights” on February 11th, 2021.
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