News 09.04.2014 Accepting Differences – Internationalisation, yes, but with a sense of proportion

Berlin, April 9th, 2014.

The European Union is exerting a growing influence on many areas of the healthcare industry. This is increasingly affecting the hospitals. In light of this development, the European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) highlights that healthcare policy and healthcare provision is a matter for the individual Member States and should remain so in the medium term. Nevertheless, the common goal of high quality and efficient healthcare provision in all countries of the EU must be pursued, while simultaneously maintaining the principle of subsidiarity. 

That does not mean that we consider the changing framework conditions for healthcare provision in Europe resulting from the internationalisation of the healthcare market as negative”, stated EAHM President Heinz Kölking. “The new directive on patient mobility is likely to increase the dynamism of these processes. This will certainly generate opportunities for the hospitals.” 

Hospital management in Europe does not oppose viable developments. The EAHM is an advocate of the freedom of patients from the European Union to choose to be treated in other EU Member States, as contained in the directive. Cooperation in respect of infection prevention and epidemic control is as important as supporting the mobility of people in healthcare professions or joint research. Exchange of experience, e.g. in the area of quality assurance, is something the EAHM has supported for a number of years through its own activities.

However, hospitals already see themselves confronted with EU regulations which they are only able to implement with the greatest of effort, for example the EU Working Time Directive. According to the head of the EAHM, the specific situation of the hospitals and their responsibilities as part of the public services provided by the state must not be called into question. However, there is a real danger that future EU regulations or decisions of the European Court of Justice, for example on competition law, will ignore these responsibilities, thus endangering services to the population rather than improving them. 

A change of course by the EU in respect of the demands placed on European countries which still find themselves deep in the economic and financial crisis is required. Unfortunately, up to now, guaranteeing healthcare provision has in no way been at the focus of the restructuring. A frightening example is Greece where healthcare expenditure, also as a result of pressure from Brussels, has been cut dramatically so that the hospitals are only operating with limited capacity. Similar problems can be observed in Portugal and Spain. 

Such developments will also be on the agenda from September 10th to 13th this year when around 600 hospital managers and directors from across Europe meet in Berlin for the 25th Congress of the European Association of Hospital Managers. In addition to current developments in healthcare policy, they will discuss the theme “The Healthcare Industry – Our Responsibility Towards People”. Heinz Kölking: “It is our duty to meet this responsibility. The European Union must also consider this when making decisions that affect the healthcare sector. Hospital management intends to take an active role in this process and shape decisions.”

The programme and further information can be found under


The European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) is a working group composed of 24 representative hospital manager associations from European countries with around 16,000 members.
The goals of the European Association include, amongst others: 
•    Promoting the professional competence and the assumption of responsibility of directors and senior staff from hospital management and the hospital sector in the European countries 
•    Developing proposals for the integration of the hospital sector in the EU as the basis for the establishment of a “social Europe” 
•    Influencing EU directives that affect hospitals. 


European Association of Hospital Managers (AEDH – EVKD – EAHM)                                        
Mr Willy Heuschen                                                                                                                 
General Secretary                                                                                                                  
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