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Healthcare in the EU: Expert Panel on Health publishes 3 opinions and 1 memorandum

Last month, the Commission’s independent Expert Panel which gives non-binding advice on matters related to “effective ways of investing in health”, has adopted three Opinions and one Memorandum related to access to healthcare and healthcare reforms.

The Opinion on Access to Health Services in the European Union identifies policy responses to improve access to health services both at national and EU level. The Opinion emphasises that ensuring equitable access to health services is a multi-dimensional challenge, with no quick fixes. It requires commitment and sustained efforts on several fronts. The EU can provide valuable support to Member States to improve access to health services, but real progress can only be made if Member States are willing to react.

The Opinion on Typology of health policy reforms and framework for evaluating reform effects seeks to guide policy evaluation and design in Member States so that national health reforms lead to the desired goals for health systems. The report stresses that further reforms are needed to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency of Europe’s health systems, and it recommends a template for evaluating the implementation and impact of said reforms.

The Opinion on Best practices and potential pitfalls in public health sector commissioning from private providers aims to contribute to improved policy making on whether to and how to commission healthcare from private providers within the EU. It finds that commissioning from private healthcare providers is a policy option that needs careful consideration. If chosen, a precise definition on what is to be commissioned and how it will be monitored, are crucial. The Panel stresses the need for strong commissioning bodies and well-designed commissioning processes.

Finally, The Memorandum on “Reflections on hospital reforms in the EU” looks at some of the challenges facing hospitals in the EU and responses that have been applied (e.g. ensuring adequate funding, promoting primary care and a greater shift to outpatient care), and gives reflections that may be useful for analysing and planning changes.

Autor: Pedro Pita Barros

Professor de Economia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa

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