A word from our leadership

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is an immense pleasure to invite you to Brussels for our first ever Patient Safety Policy Summit. Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, it is also a multi-cultural melting pot, a decision-making capital and an ideal place to convene the many stakeholders involved in patient safety.

Some 313 million patients undergo anaesthesia and surgical treatment in the world each year.¹ According to the WHO, one in ten patients may be harmed in developed countries while receiving care, and in EU member states, medical errors and healthcare related adverse events are estimated to occur in 8-12 per cent of hospitalisations.² Anaesthesiologists pioneered patient safety in perioperative care, and continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring that patients are protected from harm before, during and after surgical procedures.

The European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA) is the leading European organisation for anaesthesia, intensive care, perioperative, critical emergency and pain medicine, raising standards of care through high quality education, professional development and research. ESA’s commitment to patient safety culminated in 2010 with the launch, together with the European Board of Anaesthesiology, of the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology, which aims to promote best practices in perioperative care. 

Endorsed worldwide and by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, the Declaration will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. Coupled with WHO Resolution 68/15, reinforcing the need to strengthen emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia, ESA is now raising awareness of the need for all stakeholders to implement and build on these important milestones.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology, ESA is organising its first Patient Safety Policy Summit to bring together medical experts, policymakers, patient organisations and industry representatives.  

To ensure optimal outcomes in perioperative care, no matter where patients seek treatment in Europe, we are asking policymakers to support the implementation of the Helsinki Declaration. We will be urging them to:

  • ensure that minimum standards of care are met;

  • facilitate data collection and analysis in order to measure, monitor and improve patient safety and quality of care; and

  • promote excellence in anaesthesiology and surgical care through education, research and innovation. 

The ultimate goal of the Summit is to seek endorsement from European policymakers on the need for a common patient safety approach to perioperative care, culminating with the formal endorsement of a consensus statement.

On behalf of the European Society of Anaesthesiology, we look forward to welcoming healthcare professionals, researchers, industry leaders, policymakers and, of course, patients and patient representatives, to join with us and build on the growing momentum of national, European and global efforts to strengthen patient safety. 

We look forward to seeing you in Brussels,

Professor Stefan De Hert, MD PhD  President

Professor Stefan De Hert, MD PhD


Professor Kai Zacharowski, MD PhD ML FRCA  Vice-President

Professor Kai Zacharowski, MD PhD ML FRCA



¹ Weiser TG, Haynes AB, Molina G et al. Size and distribution of the global volume of surgery in 2012. WHO Bulletin 2016; 94:201–209F. https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/94/3/15-159293/en/
² WHO Regional Office For Europe: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Health-systems/patient-safety/data-and-statistics