Monday 7 December 2009

A patient rights vote for a Swine Flu shot?

Last week a blocking minority (Spain, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Greece and Rumania) in the Council put an end to the hopes of getting a decision on the directive for patient rights at cross border care.

Despite that the Swedes basically had sold out everything that would for real have empowered patients and put forward a proposal that merely id codify the current case law and gave plentiful of guarantees that governments should still be in power of healthcare. But the hard core of the minority came well prepared after having had their own pre-meetings and where not satisfied and instead they wanted a proposal that restricted case-law – i.e. discriminating private providers - since that was assessed to go against the constitution the Swedes could not accept going further and revising their proposal even more..

One of the things impacting the outcome where that Greece who up to now have been positive have had a change in government and the recently elected health minister didn’t know what to do. According to my sources who attended the meeting the Spanish Health Minister Trinidad knowing this promised her Greek colleague that the issue will be managed during her presidency meaning that the Greeks could without hesitation not make up her mind yet and instead vote no in order to have more time for contemplation and potentially vote yes later. Right.

There is also a guessing game ongoing on what the Romanians got from Trinidad. What is clear is that the Poles didn’t get what they wanted. The Polish Health Minister Kopacz her own problems since she has missed order swine flu vaccines and then tried to claim that 1. There is no Swine Flu in Poland and secondly if they would get it that the ordinary flu vaccine would work. She did before the meeting try to get Sweden to give her vaccines out of the Swedish stock. This happened when Swedish Health Minister Hägglund visited Warszawa to talk about the Directive about Patient Rights at Cross border care. Hägglund answered that it’s not the government but the counties in Sweden that owns the vaccines but Kopacz didn’t rest and send a letter to Hägglund. Unfortunately the Swedes have classified the letter and correspondence around the topic but this decision have been questioned by Swedish Radio and with some good luck the Swedish constitutional transparency regulations will prove useful.

Good to know for the future, given the appointment of Dalli, is that Malta did in the end line up with the majority in favour of the directive. Maybe Dalli when in charge DG Sanco can ensure that they continue to push the issue. Or maybe Trinidad just didn’t want the Swedes to get this through and actually will deliver to the Greeks so that we will have a new proposal this spring. In the meantime patients will suffer.

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