Resources For Action

The European Union has agreed both binding and non-binding legislation for Member States in relation to patient safety. These legislative tools have been agreed to by policymakers of the 28 countries belonging to the European Union and should be taken into account as part of national health strategies.

Below is an overview of important texts, projects and surveys produced at EU level and how you can use them to foster uptake of Pact for Patient Safety commitments in your country.

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The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (published 2000)

  • What is it: Enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for European Union (EU) citizens and residents into EU law
    • What it does in practice
      • Guarantees that “Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. Health protection is a fundamental right of European citizens and is to be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities” (Article 35)
      • Requires all European health systems to protect patients
    • What you can do:
      • Ask your local MP about the protection of patients in healthcare in your country (Parliamentary questions here)
      • Meet with your local MP/MEPs and ask them to commit to the Pact for Patient Safety

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    Council Recommendations on patient safety, including the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections (published 2009)

    • What it is:
      • Recommendations do not have legal force, but they do carry political weight because they have been agreed by the 28 Member States (Council) and the Members of the European Parliament.
      • As part of the recommendations, Member States must report to the Commission on progress made in implementing these recommendations (see implementation reports 2012 & 2014).
      • Recommendations are monitored and Member States not achieving implementation can be highlighted to policymakers, media and other stakeholders
    • What it does in practice:
      • Provides 11 recommendations to Member States on patient safety to implement in national health systems including:
        1. Support the establishment and development of national policies and programmes on patient safety
        2. Empower and inform citizens and patients
        3. Support the establishment or strengthen blame-free reporting and learning systems on adverse events
        4. Promote, at the appropriate level, education and training of healthcare workers on patient safety
        5. Classify and measure patient safety at Community level, by working with each other and with the Commission
        6. Share knowledge, experience and best practice by working with each other and with the Commission and relevant European and national bodies
        7. Develop and promote research on patient safety
        8. Adopt and implement a strategy at the appropriate level for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections
        9. Consider, for the coordinated implementation of the strategy referred to in (8) as well as for the purposes of information exchange and coordination with the Commission, the ECDC, the European Medicines Agency and the other Member States, the establishment, if possible by 9 June 2011, of an inter – sectoral mechanism or equivalent systems corresponding to the infrastructure in each Member State, collaborating with, or integrated into, the existing inter-sectoral mechanism as set up in accordance with Council Recommendation on prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine.
        10. Disseminate the content of this recommendation to healthcare organisations, professional bodies, and education institutions and encourage them to follow the approaches suggested therein so that its key elements can be put into everyday practice.
        11. Report to the Commission on the progress of the implementation of this recommendation by 9 June 2011 and subsequently on request by the Commission with a view to contributing to the follow up of this recommendation at Community level
    • What you can do:
      • Meet with your local MP/MEP to discuss the performance of your Member State (see overview of implementation here)
      • Raise awareness via press about the progress achieved in your country
      • Ask your local MP/MEP to submit a Parliamentary Question (see Parliamentary Questions here)
      • Bring together patient groups in your country to generate uptake of the Pact for Patient Safety as part of the implementation of the Council Recommendations

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    European Commission report on the basis of Member States responses to the implementation of the Council Recommendations 2009 (published 2012)

    • What it is:
      • As part of the Council Recommendations, Member States were asked to report on the implementation of the recommendations in 2012. Though the report has no legal force, it shows the progress made (or not made) throughout Europe.
      • The report is based on the responses provided by Member States, which means each country determined the amount and detail of information provided to the Commission for developing this report.
    • What it does in practice:
      • Provides an overview to the European Commission on what further action can and should be taken to improve patient safety in Member States.
    • What you can do:
      • Ask your local policymakers for the information submitted to the European Commission – does your personal or professional experience correspond with the answers provided?
      • Ask your local MP/MEPs to table a Parliamentary question about the response provided (See Parliamentary Questions here).
      • Raise awareness via press about the content of the submission – does it show progress or does it show your country lagging behind?
      • Meet with your local MP/MEP to discuss the differences between the state of implementation and the commitments requested in the Pact for Patient Safety.

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    EU Network for patient safety and quality of care (launched 2012)

    • What it is:
      • The European Union Network for Patient Safety and Quality of Care(PaSQ) is a project co-funded and supported by the European Commission within the Public Health Programme.
      • The main objective of PaSQ is to support the implementation of the Council Recommendations on Patient Safety. PaSQ unites representatives of the European medical community, and the institutional partners involved in Patient Safety and Quality of Care in the Member States of the European Union.
    • What it does in practice:
      • Its focus is to improve patient safety and quality of care through sharing of information, experience, and the implementation of good practices. These platforms are organised around PaSQ National Contact Points (NCPs), who are also the contact persons for PaSQ matters in their respective countries.
    • What you can do:
      • Get to know your national contact point in the PaSQ project (see list here) about how you can get involved to support uptake of the Pact commitments within the relevant governmental bodies in your country.
      • Utilise the resources of the website to share best practices where appropriate and ask healthcare professionals whether they are aware of this resource for helping to implement practices(safe surgery check list), in their local health care institutions.

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    European Parliament Own-Initiative Report on patient safety (2013)

    • What it is:
      • The European Parliament’s view on the implementation of the Council Recommendations 2009.
    • What it does in practice:
      • While non-binding on Member States, the report gives a signal to the European Commission about the direction the Parliament believes should be taken at EU level with regard to patient safety (on behalf of citizens). It also encourages Member States to implement and take forward new recommendations on patient safety.
    • What you can do:
      • Ask your local MP/MEP about the contribution of his/her political party/group to this report
      • Ask your local MP/MEP how he/she sees the new recommendations proposed by MEPs to be taken up at national level within the health ministry and strategy (see Parliamentary Questions here)
      • Meet with your local policymakers and health authorities to implement the commitments of the Pact for Patient Safety

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    Eurobarometer of patient safety (2014)

    • What it is:
      • An EU-wide survey of patients regarding their perceptions of safety and quality of care
    • What it does in practice:
      • Review changes that had occurred since the adoption of the Council Recommendation on patient safety and healthcare associated infections in 2009, in the following areas:
        1. Information to EU citizens about patient safety measures;
        2. the likelihood of experiencing an adverse event, and the circumstances and characteristics of this experience;
        3. the types of redress available if EU citizens suffer an adverse event in their own country or another Member State, and where they can turn for help;
        4. EU public perceptions of the quality of healthcare.
      • In addition, this survey looked into EU citizens’ experience of hospitalisation and/or long-term care, and whether they received information on the risk of healthcare associated infections.
    • What you can do:
      • Review the responses in your country, and raise awareness with local authorities and the general public about perceptions of safety
      • Utilise your country’s response as a means to discuss with your local policymakers about why the commitments of the Pact must be implemented
      • Contact the European Commission (DG SANCO) to ensure that your organisation is part of follow-up surveys so that a comprehensive assessment can be achieved about patient perceptions of safety moving forward

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    Reporting and learning systems for patient safety incidents across Europe (2014)

    • What it is:
      • Report from the Reporting and learning subgroup of the European Commission
    • What it does in practice:
      • Provides key findings and recommendations to Member States on how to support the implementation of the Council Recommendations 2009.
      • It serves as a catalogue of how Member States with established reporting systems have chosen to organise their own reporting systems. The report shows key findings and provides recommendations in the following areas:
        1. Overall set up of reporting systems
        2. Reporting and learning culture
        3. Components of a reporting system
        4. Technical infrastructure
    • What you can do:
      • See how your country organises it reporting and learning systems on patient safety incidents and adverse events (see report for country specific information)
      • As your local MP/MEP about key gaps in the reporting and learning systems and how patients can be compensated for medical errors resulting from poor system compliance
      • Together with healthcare professionals, raise awareness via media about the importance of reporting on adverse events for protecting patients and making the health system accountable

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    Education and training in patient safety across Europe: Work of the Education and Training in Patient Safety Subgroub of the Patient Safety and Quality of Care Working Group of the European Commission (2014)

    • What it is
      • A report which provides a comprehensive picture of education and training activities/initiatives in patient safety across 26 Member States (and Norway).
    • What it does in practice
      • Supports implementation of the Council Recommendations 2009 in Member States related to education and training of healthcare professionals. The report is meant to help guide those Member States which have had low implementation of these recommendations by identifying best practices across the EU, specifically looking at issues such as:
        1. Organization/institution resources needed to perform the activity
        2. Faculty capacities
        3. Importance of focus on students as future health professionals
        4. Importance of including training for healthcare managers and professionals as lifelong learning opportunity
        5. Patient involvement
        6. Communication between professional groups and between professionals and patients
    • What you can do:
      • Ask your MP/MEP about education and training of healthcare professionals on patient safety in your country. How can patients know they have been properly trained? (See Parliamentary Questions here)
      • What gaps exist in the implementation of the Council Recommendations 2009 for education and training in your Member State? Make it known to the European Commission, your MP/MEPs and your Council representatives so that gaps are addressed for patient safety.
      • Do your local healthcare institutions provide appropriate staffing of qualified professionals to support patient safety? Raise awareness about the importance of workforce staffing at local level by meeting with policymakers about the Pact for Patient Safety.