In 2011 the European Union adopted a directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. It was supposed to improve access to healthcare to all EU citizens, but many shortcomings have been identified in its implementation. A report voted on today by the European Parliament makes recommendations.
The S&D spokesperson on cross-border health, Tiemo Woelken MEP, said:
“All patients in the EU should have the equal right to access safe and high-quality medical care in other EU countries for many different reasons: for example having access to specialist care not available where they live; to avoid long waiting lists; or because they live close to a border.
“However, the current situation is that most citizens aren’t even aware that they have the possibility of cross-border treatment. Member states must do more to facilitate cross-border healthcare, as well as to inform patients about their rights. We want the Commission and the member states to work together to simplify reimbursement procedures for patients receiving cross-border care.
“Communicating patients’ rights is complex and the current level of quality of information is not tailored to the actual need of European patients. This is why the established national contact points now have a significant role to play. These must provide complete and, above all, understandable information to help patients make their decisions.”
S&D spokesperson on health, Miriam Dalli MEP, said:
“For all citizens to enjoy equal access to healthcare systems we need to make sure that we have the right framework in place facilitating closer cooperation in a number of areas, including e-Health and the treatment for rare diseases.
“The real issue is that citizens’ awareness about their rights - particularly their right to reimbursement - is extremely low.
“Moreover we need to have a proper framework that can counter abuse and promote fair prices of pharmaceutical products for patients wherever they are in the European Union. For this to happen, there needs to be an EU-wide effort in this area.”