FMA UK is represented on the Board of the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA), a coalition of national fibromyalgia organisations working together to influence change for fibromyalgia patients on the European and national levels. As part of ENFA, a representative of FMA UK attended a meeting in the European Parliament in Brussels of MEPs interest group on ‘‘Brain, Mind and Pain’’ and a meeting of Pain Alliance Europe, a coalition of patient organisations from all European countries, lobbying for legislative changes on European and national levels to improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic pain.
During the MEPs’ interest group meeting in the European Parliament, the leading theme this time was improving access to work and working conditions for people living with chronic pain. A Written Declaration on ‘‘Access to Employment and Education for those affected by brain disorders and chronic pain conditions’’ was presented by three MEPs initiators. A Pan-European patients’ survey showed that the vast majority of people living with chronic pain are at work and therefore urgent action is needed to improve their working conditions, so that work is healing for them and does not further impair their health. The Written Declaration calls for further support for employees living with chronic pain, such as flexible working hours, and a better support for carers. If more than half of the MEPs sign it, it will be presented to the European Commission with a call for action to improve the policy in Member States.
A toolkit will be soon available to anyone who wants to ask their MEPs to sign the Declaration. It was announced that 1 in 5 people in Europe live with chronic pain – that would amount to about 100-150 of the 750 MEPs living with chronic pain themselves. If you would like to ask your MEPs to sign the Declaration, please email Ella Vine firstname.lastname@example.org for further details, or you can contact your MEPs directly via this link:
During the meetings in the European Parliament it has been highlighted that many people living with chronic pain are at risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. The European Commission wrote a Framework on Occupational Work & Safety and Member States agreed to improve social security systems to enhance social inclusion. A representative of the newly started Dutch Presidency re-affirmed its commitment to prioritise focus on improvement of the lives of people living with chronic pain conditions, e.g. flexible working.
At a separate meeting of Pain Alliance Europe, a coalition of patient organisations, a number of future campaigns and achievements were discussed. The main achievement of the Alliance and other patient organisations was to successfully lobby the European Commission for a directive on cross-border healthcare, where pain has received a special classification. The Directive focuses on improvement of the quality of healthcare in member states. There are a number of campaigns and initiatives planned by our European partners and we will be informing how you can get involved – stay tuned in!