European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights unveiled

In collaboration with the Press Association

A bill of rights has been unveiled that aims to address the differences in care received by cancer patients across Europe.

“Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and it is essential that every patient and every family receives the best possible chance to beat this disease" - Sara Osborne, Cancer Research UK

The European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights was produced through a collaboration of over a 1,000 medical organisations and cancer patient groups from 17 European countries to ensure patients get access to the services and information they need.

Sara Osborne, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said: "The launch of the European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights is an important call to action to guarantee that the quality of care and treatment a patient receives isn’t determined by where they live or how much they earn."

The European Cancer Concord (ECC) led the initiative and members of the European Parliament against Cancer (MAC) were also involved in the development of the bill, which has been launched at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to coincide with World Cancer Day.

Three key principles – or Articles – emerged as part of the bill:

Article 1 refers to the right of every European citizen to receive the most accurate information and to be proactively involved in his/her care.

Article 2 states every European citizen should have the right to "optimal and timely access to appropriate specialised care, underpinned by research and innovation".

Finally, Article 3 concerns a patient's right to be given care within a system ensuring "improved outcomes, patient rehabilitation, best quality of life and affordable healthcare".

 “Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and it is essential that every patient and every family receives the best possible chance to beat this disease," Sara Osborne adds.

"A renewed effort is needed to ensure that cancer is diagnosed earlier and that all patients have access to the best treatments."

In 2012, around 3.45 million people were diagnosed with cancer in Europe. The same year saw 1.75 million cancer deaths, representing three deaths every minute from the disease.

Cancer has now replaced cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of premature death in 28 of the 53 European countries.

Predictions suggest an ageing population means one person will die from cancer every 10 seconds, unless effective prevention and treatment strategies are implemented.

Professor Patrick Johnston, ECC co-chair and dean of medicine, dentistry and biomedical sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: "This increasing cancer burden will impact not only on patients and their families, but will also be a significant issue for healthcare systems and for the future economic competitiveness of Europe."

Copyright Press Association 2014

References