President's speech at - 22/2/2007

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The topic you are here to address is of vital importance. Patient safety is important to us all.

I am convinced that all persons involved in healthcare, at all levels of the health system, share a common ideal that of providing a consistent high standard of care and treatment for their patients.

The challenge of the health system of every country is to provide high-quality care and to implement good practices so as to reduce the risks involved.

There is enormous potential for further developing European and international cooperation and collaboration to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of all health systems. Collaboration leads to shared expertise and the most effective use of the available resources; through collaboration it is also possible to benefit from best practices to raise standards. Realising this potential has been one of the factors behind increasing cooperation on health services in recent years.

Initiatives are underway within major international and regional bodies, such as the World Health Organisation, the European Union and the Commonwealth. I am sure that you will be hearing more about these and other initiatives later in this conference. With this wide range of activity it is important that different actors are brought together, that they direct their energy and resources coherently in a manner to achieve the best possible results.

Such events as this conference are important because sharing of experiences and information leads to a coherent and effective approach. They also serve as an opportunity for exchange, stimulating the further development of a patient safety culture in the healthcare sectors of our various countries. Moreover, while the priority remains patient safety and overall quality in health systems, working collaboratively enables all concerned to turn the variations between different systems into a shared resource from which all can learn.

I would like to thank you for your work and appeal to you to keep striving to achieve your aims. Your efforts to provide solutions to common challenges such as the setting up of programmes to sensitise healthcare institutions and health-workers operating therein, the encouragement of a culture of reporting on and learning from patient safety incidents and the promotion of the importance of surveillance and recognition are all highly commendable.

I would also like to acknowledge the difficult circumstances under which many of you operate. Here I am thinking especially of those health-workers operating in developing countries, where conditions are harder and resources lacking. I compliment you all for your dedicated work and sustained efforts.

Improving patient safety will bring benefits in driving up standards and quality by helping build a safer health system; it will also help to improve the confidence of patients in the healthcare system. I thank you for your ongoing endeavours that put the patient first.

I would like to conclude by hoping that you have stimulating discussions and I wish you every success.

Thank you.

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