Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology

In 2010 the European Board of Anaesthesiology/European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS)and the European Society of Anaesthesiology launched the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology which provides a shared European opinion of what is worth doing and practical to improve patient safety in perioperative care. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and provides a timely opportunity to build on the growing momentum of national, European and global efforts to strengthen patient safety.

To mark the 10thanniversary of the Helsinki Declaration, ESAIC will organise a Policy Summit in 2020to call on policymakers to ensure that patients are protected from harm before, during and after surgical and interventional procedures, no matter where they seek treatment in Europe.

Why a policy summit? The ESAIC 2020 Patient Safety Policy Summit provides an opportune moment to contribute our own knowledge and expertise on perioperative patient safety and to rally stakeholders around the principles of the Helsinki Declaration. The summit will ensure that policymakers see the pivotal role that anaesthesiologists play in keeping patients safe before, during and after surgery.

Who is involved? ESAIC is not alone in seeing the need for urgent action on patient safety and support from policymakers for a more ambitious agenda in this area. We have invited patient organisations and those healthcare societies representing the multi-disciplinary teams that anaesthesiologists work with in daily practice to join us in this endeavor.

We are delighted that all have accepted this invitation – they are the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, the European Surgical Association,the European Society of Vascular Surgery, The European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the International Federation of Nurse Anaesthetists, the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists and the European Patients’ Forum.

These endorsing organisations are actively helping us with the planning and design of the event, and the development of a Consensus Statement outlining recommendations for action by European institutions and EU member states. As a collaborative, joint effort, our combined voices will bring strength and urgency to our call.

About the event: The policy summit will include high-level policy roundtables and thematic sessions to discuss topics of common concern. The key themes identified by ESAIC’s Patient Safety and Quality Committee and further developed at a kick-off meeting with the endorsing organisations include: good practices in perioperative care; education and training; multi-disciplinarity & excellence; data collection & management, incident reporting and quality indicators; and patient pathways & patient empowerment. We expect high-level policymakers and other political stakeholders to endorse the Consensus Statement at the end of the event, formally signing the document as part of the closing ceremony.

About the Consensus Statement: The Consensus Statement is thekey document form the summit that will convey our core messages to policymakers. It will outline a common vision and call to action on patient safety for the European Union and will provide concrete recommendations that could support Member States in reaching 2030  targets for safe surgery and anaesthesia for all.

What next? The Policy Summit creates a springboard to strengthen and deepen our engagement with MEPs and policymakers. With the Helsinki Declaration firmly on the radar of policymakers, the next step is to ensure that recommendations are picked up in different EU policy instruments, leveraging the continuing momentum of global patient safety initiatives.

Finally a word about the strategic importance of the World Health Assembly resolution ‘Global action on patient safety’ which is an astonishing achievement for patient safety advocates. This globally recognized policy tool, the strongest global lever for change for patient safety as a discipline and an area of work, will shape the global patient safety agenda for years to come, across the entire world.

The jewel in the crown of this resolution is the establishment of World Patient Safety Day which will now be institutionalized across the world, and which has the strength to trigger a global social movement for safer healthcare. We expect to launch our own contribution to World Patient Safety Day by announcing our ESAIC2020 Policy Summit on that day, 17thSeptember. It is no coincidence that anaesthesiologists, who pioneered patient safety in perioperative care are now leading the way in speaking up for patient safety!

Please contact Helen Brewer (helen.brewer@esaic.org, tel + 32 496 285 664) if you would like more information about our EU activities.


Political momentum for patient safety
World Health Assembly ·      Resolution 68/15 – Strengthening Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and Anaesthesia (2015)

·      Resolution 72/6 – Global Action on Patient Safety and establishment of an annual World Patient Safety Day (2019)

World Health Organisation

·       Preparation for the UN General Assembly meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), including patient safety as an essential component of UHC (2019)

Global Ministerial Patient Safety Summits:

·       London – 2016

·       Berlin – 2017

·       Tokyo – 2018

·       Jeddah – 2019

·       Montreux – 2020

European Institutions

·       Council Recommendation on patient safety, including the prevention and control of health associated infections (HAIs) – 2009

·       Council Conclusions on patient safety and quality of care, including the prevention and control of HAIs and antimicrobial resistance  (AMR) – 2014

·       The European Joint Action on Patient Safety and Quality of Care (2012-2015)

·       The European Commission Patient Safety and Quality of Care Expert Group (2014-2017

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