Nicola Bedlington

Nicola Bedlington is EPF’s Secretary General since September 2014 and was previously the Executive Director since the setting up of the EPF Secretariat in June 2006.

She worked as an external expert for the European Commission on disability policy and NGO cooperation and was the first Director of the European Disability Forum during the 90s. More recently she led the ENSI Secretariat, an OECD initiated international governmental network on education and sustainable development.

Since the beginning, patient empowerment has been a central pillar of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF)’s vision and mission. Our aim is to promote patient-centred health systems involving patients in the decision-making and management of their condition. Following a consultation with our members, we decided to strengthen this commitment by setting up a one-year campaign dedicated to patient empowerment. The Patient Empowerment Campaign saw the light in May 2015 aiming to take the European discussion on this topic to the next level, towards concrete political actions. The campaign succeeded in promoting understanding of the concept, in raising awareness about the positive impact of patient empowerment both on patients’ lives and on healthcare systems and, above all, in calling up those crucial stakeholders that can actually make a difference. In this regard, I was delighted to see all the support we received from partners and policy makers. On one hand, national and European organisations embraced our campaign and helped us to spread the message on social media, in the European health arena and also at national level with events across Europe. On the other hand, Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the European Commission showed their commitment and willingness to work with us to move the topic forward. This commitment was particularly apparent during the closing event of the campaign last June in the European Parliament. In the form of a roundtable, the event was a great point of discussion where panellists and participants debated different approaches of empowerment – such as access to quality healthcare for all, health literacy and patient education – and reached a clear conclusion: we need empowered patients to build a better and more sustainable healthcare system. The campaign is now officially closed, but our work does not end here. We have now two...