Draft Directive on patient's rights in cross-border health care – hope for reasonable compromise

Press release

(Brussels, 18 January 2011) The European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU), that organises workers amongst others in the health sector, ahead of the vote in the European Parliament’s plenary on the draft directive on patient’s rights in cross-border health care on Wednesday, 19 January, Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, EPSU General Secretary qualifies the compromise achieved through the trilogue meeting of 15 December “as reasonable”.

We are satisfied that some of our major concerns with the initial draft directive have been addressed. Member States retain the responsibility for providing safe, high quality, efficient and quantitatively adequate healthcare to citizen on their territory. That is an important outcome of the discussion process”, Fischbach-Pyttel underlines. The transposition of the Directive into national legislation and its application should not result in patients being encouraged to receive treatment outside their Member State of affiliation. The compromise further recognises that a vast majority of EU patients receive health care in their own country and prefer to do so. In certain circumstances patients may seek some forms of health care to be provided abroad. “It is important for us the Directive should not undermine Regulation No. 883/2004 and this has been made clear in article 7 in particular.”

The text also takes account of recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice in recognizing that health care may be made subject to prior authorization to the extent that planning requirements have to ensure sufficient and permanent access to a balanced range of high-quality treatment. “It is positive that recital 19 emphases the overarching values of universality, access to good quality care, equity, and solidarity as determinant factors for health care provision in the EU. This is indeed crucial for us”, says Fischbach-Pyttel. “We have come some way with this Directive considering the initial approaches, from a fairly crude market approach to an overall much more balanced text. Still, we will have to monitor the impact of this Directive very carefully. We certainly do not want to encourage health tourism, as recently suggested by a spokesperson of the Hungarian Presidency.”

For more information please contact: Pablo Sanchez, Press Officer, psanchez@epsu.org or tel. + 32 474 62 66 33

- From our Austrian affiliate, GdG: Richtlinie zu Patientenmobilität ist ein tragfähiger Kompromiss

- Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare (28 February 2011): Analysis and assessment - in DE, EN, FR, ES, RU and SV

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