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A consultation paper by the European Commission in Brussels has launched talks on how to improve healthcare services across the EU.
According to the paper, up to 12% of all patients admitted to hospitals suffer from “adverse effects” while receiving healthcare, while between 20-30% of infections caught in hospitals can be prevented.
The consultation document suggests that if only 7-10% were prevented, the entire costs of a comprehensive programme to fight “healthcare-acquired infections” (HCAIs), would be covered.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said a total of 4.1 million patients catch at least one “hospital-acquired” infection – one in 20 of all hospitalised patients in the 27 EU countries.
About 37,000 patients die every year directly from infections caught in hospitals, and such infections contribute to an additional 110,000 deaths.
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. said: “We need to prepare for the health and social care challenges of the future.”
The document explains that Europe’s ageing population is changing the pattern of disease and imposing increasing demands on health workers.
It added the healthcare workforce is also ageing – with insufficient recruits to replace those coming up to retirement.
Copyright Press Association 2008