Leading pan-European think tank, the Stockholm Network, welcomes the European Commission’s draft directive on patient mobility.

The Network’s CEO and healthcare specialist, Helen Disney said:

“This plan from Brussels will help to save the NHS from itself. It is only when British patients are empowered to choose from the widest possible range of healthcare providers that value for money and patient satisfaction will be met. All too often our state hospitals are filthy, our patients neglected and our waiting lists dangerously slow. However sceptical of Brussels voters may be, British people will sign up to this opportunity in their millions.”


Stockholm Network research, based on public attitudes to healthcare reform published in Impatient for Change and Poles Apart, argues strongly in favour of an integrated health service market. Such a development will benefit patients by revealing weaknesses in national systems, as health consumers begin travelling abroad to get the treatment their home country denies them or can only offer them after long waiting times and at an inferior standard.

Research carried out by Populus for the Stockholm Network, asked Europeans whether they would be willing to travel abroad for treatment if their healthcare system paid for it. The poll was carried out in eight different European countries, including the UK, and from a variety of different age ranges.

The findings showed unequivocally that waiting for treatment is now a key political concern in Europe with 83% of Europeans regarding waiting times as important to good quality healthcare, but only 26% rating their respective health services as good in this regard.

Younger generations displayed a markedly higher willingness to travel abroad for treatment, as long as treatment was paid for by their health system. In Spain 80% of people from the 15 – 24 age group, would be prepared to travel, versus 35% from the 55 – 64 year age range.

Only older people and citizens in France and Germany are hesitant about the concept of going abroad for treatment, perhaps because their systems have previously not suffered the long waiting lists common to other countries such as the UK.