ELF Chair and Kjeld Hansen, from the EPAP Patient Advisory Group
It is essential that patients are involved in all aspects of healthcare and its delivery if we want to ensure that the challenges posed by chronic diseases in the future are adequately addressed. The European Patient Ambassador Programme (EPAP) provides the tools to facilitate this.
Patients and carers can help improve healthcare
Patients and carers have a valuable role to play in improving healthcare services and research, although they may not be aware of the different ways that they can be involved. Healthcare professionals may also experience difficulties in engaging or accessing people who want to become involved, as well as ensuring these people are equipped with the skills needed to make an effective contribution.
Giving patients the skills and knowledge to be heard
The European Patient Ambassador Programme was established to address these issues, from patient co-design in research, to raising awareness in the media, joining guideline working groups and presenting at medical conferences. It is a completely free online programme that introduces people affected by a long-term health condition, including partners and family members, to some of the skills and knowledge they may need to successfully represent themselves and others locally, nationally or at the European level. Anyone registered on the programme can also join an online community of trained ambassadors across Europe with experience of a diverse range of conditions.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) are a partner on the programme, ensuring that the programme is relevant and comprehensive for both UK and European contexts.
Visit www.EPAPonline.eu to learn more about the programme and explore the modules on offer. The programme has just been translated in Dutch with French and Italian to follow. Opportunities to get involved and information of interest for ambassadors is also posted here.