European Union of Private Hospitals

Iberian Summit of Private Hospitals 2022

By Carlos Rus, President of the Spanish Federation of Private Hospitals (ASPE)

The 3rd Iberian Summit of Private Health will take place on 23 June in Lisbon. The objective of this summit, jointly organised by the Spanish and Portuguese private hospitals federations (ASPE and APHP), is to raise awareness of European private healthcare and to exchange knowledge.

Private healthcare is a strategic sector, an important generator of employment and wealth. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the common denominators of both countries, in order to define protocols for joint action and to strengthen international cooperation. In addition, this summit opens a space for creating synergies and exchanging information and good practices.

Themes that will be discussed

We have prepared a very interesting programme for the 3rd Iberian Summit. It will begin with an opening ceremony presented by the Spanish Private Healthcare Alliance in collaboration with the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitals.

This will be followed by a first round table on the main theme of digital transformation in healthcare, which is of particular importance today. The summit will continue with an ideal and timely space for networking and exchange of experiences and, finally, experts in the field will gather around a table on the private health insurance model. The closing session will be given by Dr Paul Garrassus, President of the UEHP, who will then give way to a pitch involving several companies from the health sector.

The need to reaffirm the importance of the private health sector in Spain and Portugal

It is essential to reaffirm the importance of the private health sector in Spain and Portugal. European health systems are not sustainable without the collaboration of the private sector. In this sense, it plays a fundamental role in the sustainability of European health systems and their economies.

At ASPE, we work for quality health care, putting all available resources at the service of citizens, with the aim of maintaining and improving the health of patients. We are willing to collaborate permanently with all the actors of the national health system and, therefore, we must do so in a positive and coordinated way. We believe in training and research, supporting the best professionals and investing in the development of new techniques and technological health solutions that can help citizens. We promote the accessibility of the population to health care through a wide and varied network of centres. We adapt to the current and future needs of citizens, as well as to changing social and health trends. Because health is what concerns and occupies us. Beyond the where, when or who.

We are convinced that private health care plays an essential role in the sustainability of the system at national level, helping to relieve and save the public health system. Moreover, during the Covid-19 health crisis, the need for integration and collaboration between public and private health care was highlighted.

We are also a source of skilled, stable and quality employment. We directly employ a large number of professionals (in the case of Spain, currently 286,719 people) in and out of hospitals, where there is absolute equality in terms of working conditions and pay.

We believe in better accessibility to health care for the population through a wide and varied network of centres. We are widely represented in existing hospitals and hospital beds (currently in Spain we represent 56% of Spanish hospitals and 32% of available beds), and we defend the right of all citizens to health protection and free choice.

Private healthcare also invests in technological innovation and research and development. We research and develop highly complex activities using the most advanced technologies. In addition, we encourage research and the incorporation of new technologies to advance the cure of diseases. Around 30% of the most complex surgical activities performed in Spain are carried out in private medical centres.

In addition, we are committed to the research and development of new drugs to overcome various diseases. We have strengthened our presence in the research field, both in terms of the number of clinical trials and the participation of centres. Between 2016 and 2020, we participated in 50.8% of all clinical trials conducted in Spain.

Issues such as an ageing population, chronic diseases, obesity, drugs and the demand for health services highlight the need for constant collaboration. We must work hard to solve them. And for this, we also count on the appreciation and support of the population and our users, who are aware of our permanent will and constant effort to ensure the health of all.

Although the Spanish health care model is an example for other countries, there are still challenges in the private sector. When we talk about the productive model of this country, we cannot forget the health sector and the contribution of private companies and the thousands of professionals who are part of it.

We continue to call for the necessary optimisation of existing health resources in Spain and Portugal, regardless of the public or private origin of the capital, according to objective criteria of profitability and through a transparent and fair system. And, of course, we must not forget respect for the citizen’s right to choose to be treated in a public or private centre, under equal conditions and according to quality standards.