(4 March 2011) The health care sector is characterised by an above average speed of ageing. E.g. in France 50% of nurses employed in 2005 were expected to be retired in 2015, as highlighted during a hearing of the Intergroup "Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity" in the European Parliament on 27 January 2011 and mentioned in the EPSU contribution to European Innovation Platform "Active and Healthy Ageing".
In 2006 the European Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the European
Hospital Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) therefore had commissioned a report on the challenges and specific needs related to the ageing of the health care workforce. Its publication coincided with the formalisation of the EU-level social dialogue in the hospital sector.
The study “Promoting realistic active ageing policies in the hospital sector” charts the age profile of the hospital sector workforce in Europe and identifies and analyses initiatives within the hospital sector that have addressed the issue of an ageing workforce. In addition to an overview of the hospital sector, a series of case studies of regional and local initiatives that aim to address the challenges of demographic change and promote realistic active ageing measures among the hospital sector workforce are presented. National initiatives supported both by employers and unions have also been included. Finally, this report also assesses ways in which sectoral social dialogue at the European level can help to address the issue of an ageing workforce.
The study concludes that one of the key issues for the sector is that the concept of active ageing is not widely recognised in all parts of Europe: a challenge here is in the acceptance of what is in effect an Anglo Saxon concept in Southern and Eastern Europe. It is suggested that the sectoral social dialogue at European level can play an important role in tackling this challenge.
To support future activities there is a need to strengthen the available evidence base and conduct further research to deepen understanding of the specific issues facing the sector that will help equip social partners affect change. The social dialogue process at European level can play a role in promoting national / sub-national level awareness raising concerning its role and contribution to lifecycle management.
EPSU would like to see that challenges related to the ageing workforce in health and social care are tackled in a broader framework of policies to achieve a balanced workforce.