Assuring quality of health care in the European Union
Europe’s citizens are on the move. In unprecedented numbers they are travelling across borders, their passage eased by the removal of national frontiers, the adoption of a common currency, and the growth of low cost air travel. People have always travelled within Europe for work and leisure, although never before with the current intensity; some even commute weekly between, for example, Poland and the United Kingdom. Now, however, they are travelling for many other reasons, including the quest for key services such as health care.
Whatever the reason for travelling, one question they may ask is “if I fall ill, will the health care I receive be of a high standard?”. Until now, they could only go on trust. Surely each country had put in place systems that would ensure that the care provided on its territory was safe, effective, and humane? But they had no way of knowing whether this was the case.
This book now examines, for the first time, the systems that have been put in place in all of the European Union’s 27 Member States. The picture it paints is mixed. Some have well developed systems, setting standards based on the best available evidence, monitoring the care provided, and taking action where it falls short. Others need to overcome significant obstacles.
The European Union has only limited ability to take action on health care but if free movement of Europe’s citizens is to become a reality, an essential measure would be to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to ensure high quality care, even if the approaches taken will vary according to local circumstances. This requires a dialogue between those responsible for funding and providing health care in Europe. This book contributes to this important process.
Ms Helena Legido-Quigley is a Research Fellow in Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom.
Professor Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Research Director, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.
Dr Ellen Nolte is Senior Lecturer, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Senior Research Fellow, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.
Ms Irene A Glinos is a researcher at the Observatoire Social Européen, Brussels, and the University of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands.