European Issues

As GAMIAN-Europe develops its policy work, it is increasingly able to support interactive dialogues on key policy issues with members of the European Parliament interested in mental health.

Ensuring that policies are communicated effectively for the benefit of patients depends on building good working relationships with external stakeholders and initiates “working relations” with the European Commission and Parliament.

If GAMIAN-Europe is to represent European patients organisations within the field of mental health it is imperative to work at this level in developing healthcare delivery systems that benefit patients and carers affected by mental illness


New Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain

On 24 February, a European Parliament Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain was launched. The Group is a joint initiative of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA) and Pain Alliance Europe and will be c o-chaired by MEPs Marian Harkin, Jeroen Lenaers and Daciana Octavia Sârbu.

Across Europe, two thirds of people with brain disorders receive no treatment and 40% of people with chronic pain report that it is not adequately controlled.  Neurological and pain conditions are not widely recognised and understood by the general population and even some medical professionals. Partly because of this lack of knowledge, many people with neurological or pain disorders experience high levels of stigma. Negative attitudes towards people with these conditions include ignorance and fear about the disorders, and their causes and impact.

The Group’s aim is to encourage research into and access to innovative treatments, promote prevention and self-management approaches, decrease stigma and work together to improve quality of life for people living with these disabling conditions.

To achieve these goals the Group calls on European policy-makers to:

  • Support patient-led campaigns to educate, eradicate stigma and raise awareness of neurological and chronic pain disorders
  • Support research into the development of innovative prevention and treatment options within a regulatory framework which facilitates equitable access to affordable therapies
  • Strengthen patient involvement in this research, and in policy-setting and decision-making
  • Implement relevant European social legislation to ensure appropriate support for people living with neurological and chronic pain disorders

In advance of the launch EFNA and PAE have prepared a Book of Evidence which will outline why brain and pain disorders should be a political priority; highlighting the current challenges/barriers but also exploring possible solutions. This document was presented and distributed at the launch with contributions from representatives of the stakeholders including the President of the European Academy of Neurology, Prof. Gunther Deuschl.

For more information:

New Study on Chronic Care in Europe

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies has published a new study on caring for people with chronic diseases.

This is one of the greatest challenges facing health systems today. The report entitled ‘Assessing chronic disease management in European health systems’ presents the current state of thinking across Europe on Exploring experiences in 12 European countries, it identifies a range of approaches and new models for chronic care and evaluates their innovative potential and likelihood of success.

download the report

European Parliament Interest Group on Patient Access to healthcare

On 27 January, a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) launched a new Interest Group which will address Patient Access to healthcare. The event was attended by a large number of patient organisations, health stakeholders and policy makers.

This Group, co chaired by 5 MEPs, will

  • ensure the commitment of the EP to raising awareness of patients access issues
  • provide a Forum for action and debate on equal access to healthcare to ensure that patient access features on the EU policy agenda
  • will facilitate the active involvement of EU level policy-makers in these debates and actions

The first steps towards the creation of the group were taken last January in a meeting hosted by Andrey Kovatchev MEP (Bulgaria, EPP).

The work of the future Interest Group is timely in view of current EU policy development, i.e. the Cross-border Directive on Patient Rights and its practical implementation, work on the Semester and country specific recommendations, the Joint Action on Chronic Disease, the Health Programme, work on health inequalities, activities in the field of patient safety, attention for patient empowerment (EMPATHiE) and the emphasis on patient safety and quality of health care.

Speaking in the event, Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis express his full support for the goals of the Interest Group, and listed a number of current DG SANTE actions that could complement its work, such as the implementation of the Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, the development of the European Reference Networks, the Joint Action on Chronic Diseases facilitating exchange of good practices in tackling chronic diseases and promote healthy ageing, such as action on patient empowerment and others. He also thanked the MEPs involved with the creation of the Interest Group, stating that joint Commission/Parliament action will make an important contribution towards improving access to healthcare across the European Union.

The Access Partnership:

The Interest Group will work closely with the European Patients’ Forum and the Bulgarian National Patient Organisation (NPO) and will constitute the Political arm of the Access Partnership, a multi stakeholder platform to facilitate the dialogue between stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to reduce inequities in access to healthcare.

The main trigger for the establishment of this Partnership was provided by a conference on health inequalities, held in Sofia in 2012, and the Vilnius Declaration on Sustainable Health Systems for Inclusive Growth in Europe. This included a call to Action to work in partnership towards equitable health and the Partnership is a response to this call.

It will aim to:

  • Identify barriers and gaps in access across EU (develop a tool to measure access in EU28);
  • Introduce EU mechanisms to accelerate access across the EU and support Member States;
  • Support EU legislation on standards for increasing quality of healthcare and access;
  • Explore innovative approaches to increasing access in Europe – e.g. fair pricing system to improve access to innovation and enhance competitive environment.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the Interest Group, the Health Commissioner also referred to the Partnership, underlining the need for a ‘health in all policies’ approach. Health should be an integral part of all relevant policies including environment, social and economic affairs.

The Commissioner underlined that all stakeholders will need to play their part in improving access to healthcare and health outcomes. Partnerships are indispensable if the situation is to be improved and the Patient Access Partnership is a good example.

For more information:

For Mr Andriukaitis’ speech: