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Brussels, 22 April 2009
CoR member Piero Marrazzo, President of the Lazio Region: Local authorities must step up their role in prevention and control of healthcare-related diseases
In Brussels today, the President of the Lazio Region, Piero Marrazzo, presented the Committee of the Regions' opinion on patient safety and the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections. He put forward a number of improvements to the European Commission's proposals in this area.
"Patient safety in hospitals and better prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections are deeply felt issues for EU citizens," stated President Marrazzo. "These are issues that contribute greatly to public perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of services provided by the public authorities."
President Marrazzo considers patient safety in healthcare facilities, the area covered by the European Commission's proposal for a recommendation and the Committee of the Regions' opinion, to be extremely relevant. "Two facts must be borne in mind," he said. "Firstly, it is important to remember the important role that local and regional authorities play with respect to health and sanitation policies in many national systems; secondly, however, the Commission proposal must, be given credit for involving the Member States in the issue and for emphasising subsidiarity. As a result, I believe that this is the right time to better define the role of local and regional authorities, in line with the role they play in healthcare provision."
"I believe that other improvements could also be made to the Commission's proposals," he added. "Of course, there is the need to increase and better define the participation of citizens and their associations in the consultative bodies involved in the planning and decision-making processes associated with risk management. There is also a need to better define the processes, indicators and standards for risk management and patient safety in the approval, accreditation and certification systems for healthcare providers."
"One of the priority objectives," Mr Marrazzo went on to assert, "is the need to embed risk management and patient safety in higher education for doctors and other healthcare professionals in such a way as to give students in EU countries a clear and comprehensive overview of this type of issue in healthcare and hospital practice." He concluded by advocating "the inclusion of additional recommendations to increase the efforts of national bodies to define regulatory and procedural instruments specifically dedicated to the safe use of pharmaceuticals".
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The Committee of the Regions
Around two-thirds of EU legislation is implemented by local and regional authorities in the Member States. The Committee of the Regions was created in 1994 to give representatives of local government a say over the content of these laws. The CoR organises five plenary sessions a year, where its 344 members vote on opinions issued in response to proposed legislation. The European Commission, which initiates EU laws, and the Council of Ministers, which determines the final content of the legislation (usually in tandem with the European Parliament), are obliged to consult the CoR on a wide range of policy areas including the environment, employment and transport. The Lisbon Treaty will strengthen the position of the Committee of the Regions further. In future, the Committee must be consulted by the European Parliament on all issues that are important for regions and municipalities. The Committee can also appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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