Nicola Bedlington, European Patients’ Forum Secretary General, shares her views on patient empowerment

  • Posted on 30.09.2015

Nicola Bedlington, European Patients’ Forum Secretary General, shares her views on patient empowerment


Nicola Bedlington

Secretary General, European Patients Forum

Nicola Bedlington photo 2

I am delighted that EPF has embarked on a one-year campaign on patient empowerment and the support that this is receiving from many health stakeholders who participated in our launch conference. When I think back to when we created EPF 12 years ago, enabling patients to become active at all levels was one of the fundamental aims for this new organisation. It is part of our DNA.

Last year, we raised the bar on patient empowerment through our investment in the EMPATHIE project which mapped initiatives to empower patients across the European Union. We led a specific piece of work exploring different scenarios on European cooperation in this area.

A European strategy

A very clear signal emerged from this work on the need and indeed the appetite for a European strategy on patient empowerment. We all know that this is not uppermost on the political agenda and our work over the next year will hopefully stimulate fresh commitment as well as fresh ideas on how to move forward.

Everyone’s business

There are many campaigns in Brussels and many groups advocating for their rights. Why, we might ask ourselves, should this one be any different? The answer is because patient empowerment is everyone’s business. 

One in four people in Europe has a chronic disease and this figure will not decrease over the next few years as demographic trends gear towards ageing and the increase in chronic diseases. We as patients no longer accept being passive recipients of healthcare; we want quality information, and to play a role in partnership with our trusted healthcare professionals in the management of our disease.

Good for health systems

There is a widespread acknowledgement that empowering patients is good for healthcare systems. It is increasingly recognised as an essential element for future high-quality, patient-centred healthcare systems – better health outcomes, -more patients’ satisfaction- and, crucially, better use of resources. Patients, through our experiential knowledge, can contribute much to healthcare innovation, design and healthcare policy at all levels.

We believe the time is absolutely right to make patient empowerment known and understood in every part of Europe. The slogan we have chosen “Patients Prescribe” says it all. For the first time ever at EU level we, as patients, drive a campaign on our empowerment. Patients in Europe are active, decisive, and assertive citizens, ready to play our rightful role at collective and individual level.

We prescribe five Es to improve health systems: Education, Expertise, Equality, Experience and Engagement. We call on decision-makers to develop an EU strategy on patient empowerment to achieve a real impact on the ground for the benefit of our people, over 150 million patients with chronic disease whose interests we represent, but also society as a whole. 

Check here EPF’s infographic on patient empowerment.

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