By Martin Banks - 9th November 2012
I have very much enjoyed the positive cooperation with my colleagues, especially John Dalli
EU commissioner Neelie Kroes has called for the "reinvention" of Europe's whole health and social care system.
The Dutch official, speaking at an event on demographic change, said that extending people's lives was one of the flagship EU policies.
Kroes, who is responsible for the digital agenda dossier, said, "There's a common desire from every country and every corner of the EU to deliver for citizens.
"We all need the same thing: to improve people's lives.
"We can't do this simply by throwing money at the problem, not in the current climate. Nor by simply cutting budgets. nor by just taking what we already do, and adding in a couple of fancy gadgets."
Speaking in Amsterdam, she said, "Rather, we need to use smart innovations to re-engineer and reinvent our whole health and social care system."
Kroes was addressing the Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.
The event brought together leading figures in the field of active and healthy ageing from across Europe, including universities and research groups, public authorities, health providers, industry and non-governmental organisations.
Kroes said that savings of five per cent in the age-related healthcare budget in the EU is equivalent to more than €60bn.
She said the EU's eHealth action plan, due before the end of this year, will also help "knock down" more of the barriers to innovation success.
It was also necessary, she said, to deal with issues like interoperability, research, and international cooperation.
She added, "We now need to see not just the new ideas, but to see them deployed. With real results for real people.
"A real evidence base to prove what most of us already suspect: that we can transform health and social care. So that these changes benefit not just four million people, but 500 million.
"That's what I want to see. And sooner rather than later. Because the time for change is now; this issue won't go away, it will merely get more and more expensive to deal with."
Kroes also paid tribute to her former colleague, John Dalli, the Maltese official who resigned recently as health commissioner amid allegations that he was aware of possible attempts to alter EU tobacco legislation in return for financial gain. Dalli denies the claims and says he may take legal action against the commission and Olaf.
She said, "At the commission I have very much enjoyed the positive cooperation with my colleagues, especially John Dalli. This has been a truly multi-disciplinary effort from the start.
"Irrespective of who is sitting in the seat, that good work will continue."