European network for patients' rights set upBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7193.1234b (Published 08 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1234
A new European network aimed at promoting patients' rights has been launched. The network will share and disseminate information on the development of patients' rights throughout the European region.
At a conference in Copenhagen to launch the network at the end of April it emerged that although many countries had passed laws or published charters on patients' rights over the past few years, their actions had had little effect. The conference was organised by the World Health Organisation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Nordic School of Public Health.
“Patients consistently report that their opinions are not adequately considered and that their rights are often violated,” said Dr Mikko Vienonen, regional adviser at the WHO's regional office for Europe.
The reason for this is deep rooted, the meeting was told. Healthcare professionals and those responsible for organising and funding health systems have tended to regard the various statutes with scepticism, and they have been seen as too complicated or costly to implement. The concept of developing a partnership with patients and the need to provide them with good information and involve them fully in decisions about their care has not been widely accepted.
Further information about the network may be obtained from Dr Mikko Vienonen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100, Copenhagen θ, Denmark (tel: +45 39 17 1203).