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Newsletter August 2020: ESAIC - building political capital, promoting the role of anaesthesiologists

Helen Brewer



A week is a long time in politics, as they say. But boy, what a difference a year makes! We recap here on what ESAIC has done in the public affairs sphere in these last twelve months and what it has achieved.

The 2020 Patient Safety Policy Summit: ESAIC marked the 10th Anniversary of the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety In Anaesthesiology by organising the 2020 Patient Safety Policy Summit which took place on 3 March. Echoing WHO Resolution 68/15, which reinforces the need to strengthen emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia, the Summit was held to raise awareness of the need to implement and build on these critical milestones and to 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.

The Summit opened with a stirring video message from the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, congratulating ESAIC for initiating the Policy Summit and for striving to put patient safety higher on the political agenda.

During the day, engaging discussions and different perspectives were shared between patient advocates, national and European political leaders, industry partners and medical experts, on topics including patient engagement, data collection, implementation of best practices, and the importance of education, training and research. The plenary sessions were live-streamed and a full recording of the day, which has been viewed more than 275 times, can be found here. Find out more about the 2020 Patient Safety Policy Summit at www.ESAIC2020.org.

Speakers and attendees appreciated the genuine engagement and dialogue with policymakers, and the event did much to enhance ESAIC’s political visibility and prestige.

Consensus statement: Reflecting the pivotal role that anaesthesiologists play in ensuring that patients are protected from harm in the perioperative period, ESAIC convened and led six medical societies and a patient organisation who collaborated on the development of consensus recommendations to EU and national policymakers. These endorsing organisations were enthusiastic about the Summit and have become allies that ESAIC can count on for future outreach. ESAIC is now well-positioned to be the leading voice of perioperative care stakeholders.

Support from institutions and policymakers: The Summit was widely supported by European institutions. The event was hosted by the European Committee of the Regions, was held under the sponsorship of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and received the patronage of the European Parliament. The summit program included speakers from the European Commission and other key institutions as well as multilateral organisations such as WHO and OECD. Some 15 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) pledged their support for the Consensus Statement and the goals of the Summit and have offered their help to keep the topic on the radar of policymakers in future. ESAIC has built political capital with key institutions and politicians, and the door is now open to advance key issues.

Telling the story: In the run-up to the Summit, ESAIC ran an active social media campaign to promote the event, the speakers and critical facts about perioperative patient safety. Additionally, during the Summit, a ‘highlights’ video was developed to bring longevity to the event and to appeal to a broader audience. ESAIC’s message? “We are all patients!”.  Information about the topic was also disseminated to the Brussels policy community via the Parliament Magazine. See the highlights video here and a photo gallery from the Summit itself.

COVID-19: At present, healthcare has never been higher on the political agenda. Thanks to direct links built with policymakers through the Policy Summit, ESAIC was rapidly able to mobilise MEPs to sign a joint letter to the European Health Commissioner, Mrs Stella Kyriakides, outlining ESAIC’s recommendations for recovering from the current emergency and preparing European health systems to respond to future similar outbreaks. In response, the Commissioner has invited ESAIC’s President and Vice-President to explore further with her how to help equip Europe against future health threats, in particular focusing on health security and capacity to react to crises, as well as long-term disease prevention and surveillance. An opportunity amid crisis!

What next? ESAIC has now established its profile as a thought leader in the health policy community in the last year. Contacts and networks have been cultivated, common messages have been shared, and goodwill has been built, feeding into the growing momentum of national, European and global efforts to strengthen perioperative patient safety.  Furthermore, the coronavirus crisis has created a unique opportunity to promote the role of anaesthesiologists to institutional stakeholders. ESAIC has now taken a significant step forward in promoting the professional role of anaesthesiologists to institutional stakeholders and has laid the groundwork for future outreach. Onward!

If you would like to find out more about ESAIC’s public affairs activities, please contact CEO Cathy Weynants at Cathy.Weynants@esaic.org, tel +32 488 50 65 49.


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