Stasbourg, 2015, European Parliament

During the plenary session in Strasbourg the European Parliament adopted on Wednesday its position on the budget of the Union for the next year. As a part of the annual procedure the MEPs voted on a package of pilot projects. The experimental initiatives are key tools for the formulation of political priorities that could pave the way new long-term activities and programmes improving the lives of EU citizens.

Among the adopted projects, for which funds should be appropriated in next year′s budget, is a proposal by the Interest Group on Patient Access to Healthcare. It was developed in close cooperation with the Patient Access Partnership (PACT) and addresses the need for comparable and timely information on access in EU through the improvement of existing indicators and the piloting of a new set of measurements. It also reflects the key findings of the recently published report on access to healthcare by the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health, in which the importance of a credible and comparable tool was stressed.

The co-chairs of the Interest Group welcomed the plenary vote and pointed out that this project could strongly support the efforts of the Member States in tackling inequalities in access.

“I am very pleased that the European Parliament approved our proposal, which should bring concrete benefits for patients across Europe. We need the right basis of information to be able to make smart investment in healthcare and develop policies to reduce inequities”, said Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria).

“One of the key factors to better access to health care treatment and services, and prevention is health literacy of patients. Many patients do not have enough information and knowledge about their conditions and the various treatment options, nor about their rights. This pilot projects aims to change that, so I am very pleased that it was supported by a vast majority in the vote”, commented Karin Kadenbach (S&D, Austria).

“This is a huge step for our new Interest Group on Patient Access to Healthcare which can help patients across Europe. I am looking forward for next stages of this project”, added Katerina Konečná (GUE/NGL, Czech Republic).

“We cannot talk of real equality in Europe until all our citizens have equal chances to get effective and affordable medical treatment.  To remove barriers to equal access, first we have to identify them and the aim of this Pilot Project is just that”, underlined Biljana Borzan (S&D, Croatia).

“This Pilot project is fully in line with the Preliminary opinion of the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health, which emphasises the multi-dimensional barriers to access and the need to monitor the magnitude of access problems in a timely manner as well as measure changes over time and across groups of people. More importantly, the decision of the European Parliament is recognition of the need to measure access and the value attributed to the right of patients to quality healthcare.”, added Stanimir Hasurdjiev (Secretary General – PACT).

The cross-party Interest Group on Patient Access to Healthcare was launched on 27 January in the European Parliament and has already gathered the support of almost 30 MEPs from 15 Member States.