Patient involvement in policy is essential

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

“Patient involvement in health-related EU projects is fundamental to patient-centred, equitable healthcare throughout the EU. ‘Meaningful patient involvement’ means putting the patient at the centre of healthcare policy so that their specific knowledge and experience can feed into the decision-making process,” writes Nicola Bedlington, director of the European Patients’ Forum, in an exclusive commentary for EURACTIV.

The following commentary was sent to EURACTIV by the European Patients’ Forum (EPF). 

“The European Commission recognised the need for patient involvement in health-related policymaking in its White Paper ‘Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013,’ which claims that healthcare is becoming increasingly patient-centred. 

Community health policy needs to begin with patients’ rights, which include participation and influence on decision-making. Involving patients in the decision-making process helps to ensure that policies are implemented which support patients’ and their carers’ needs and capabilities. 

However, meaningful and sustainable patient involvement can only be achieved through political commitment, changes in values and attitudes and with the help of institutional, structural and financial support mechanisms. 

The forthcoming EPF conference in Gothenburg, Sweden on 9-10 December will bring to a close the two-year Value+ project, co-funded by the European Commission. The project calls for enhanced political commitment on patient involvement at both the project and policy level. Political representatives, the Swedish EU Presidency, member states and the EU institutions will be present at the conference for the unveiling of three project deliverables.

These include firstly the Value+ Toolkit to support patients and patient organisations in getting involved in health-related projects and policy.

Secondly, the Value+ Handbook aimed at project coordinators and leaders to show them how to involve patient organisations and work effectively with them. 

And thirdly, the Policy Recommendations which are the result of the findings in relation to the assessment of patient involvement in health projects supported by the European Commission.”

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