Rights whi not be take
On 19 April European citizens celebrate Patients’ Rights Day. The European Patients’ Rights Day has become an annual event on the European and national political agendas to inform, discuss means of improving patients’ rights in Europe in each Member State. The European Charter of Patients’ Rights was drafted in 2002 by Active Citizenship Network, in collaboration with 12 citizens’ organisations from different EU countries.
Gertrude Buttigieg from the Office of the Commissioner for Mental Health and representative of Malta Health Network (MHN) spoke to The Malta Independent regarding the importance of the Charter, especially with European elections around the corner.
“We are asking our MEP’s and future commission to put health at the heart of the EU agenda; with health at the heart, the EU can beat stronger,” said Buttigieg. She explained that health should be a European priority, as one cannot have a growing economy without healthy citizens. She added that in the past, the EU would feature health as a side issue to a bigger topic, and there must be a change in mentality.
What does the Charter include?
The European Charter of Patient’s Rights is made up of 14 rights ranging from the right for preventing measures, access to health care, information, free choice, to complain and for compensation in case of physical or psychological damage as a result of negligence. Buttigieg explained that currently the Charter is used as a form of a protocol for good practice within the public health services, but is not legally bound.
“The MHN were the first to promote the Charter back in 2008, and to bring it to the attention of citizens and authorities. It was then in 2013 when the Charter was mentioned in both manifestos of the political parties, which we thought was an indication that we will be introducing the European Charter of Patients’ Rights. We did not see any mention of the Charter again until 2016, when the Health Act mentioned Patient’s Rights, which includes the concept of respecting patients’ time and there are other Rights mentioned in the Maltese Charter; but it is not legally bound, just a point of reference.”
Buttigieg also said that many are not aware or informed about the Charter itself, and that people facing a medical inconvenience are less likely to know their full rights as patients.
“We believe that these 14 Rights are not disseminated enough, and that when a problem does occur there is not an independent point of redress; some might feel uncomfortable having to go complain about an issue they are facing to the entity who are providing them a service, as it might just develop further problems.” An independent point of address could be an entity, a network or a title for somebody, where people can go and place