EU4Health budget ignores the biggest problem in healthcare: lack of staff

© CanStock Photo VILevi

(22 November 2022) The European Commission’s recently adopted EU4Health work programme overlooks the most significant problem facing Europe’s health and care systems: staff shortages.

The work programme for 2023 allocates a total of €736 million to build Europe’s health resiliency -- but less than €9 million of this is allocated to reforming and strengthening health systems. While the Commission claims that this budget will go towards crisis preparedness (with €243 million going to the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority and national surveillance systems) and tackling cancer, these goals cannot be achieved without strong health systems.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary, EPSU said, “This budget does a laughable job of addressing the biggest issue facing Europe’s health systems: the shortage of health and care workers. With workers leaving the sector and high levels of stress and burnout, this plan ignores what will be a breakdown of health systems if not dealt with. The European Commission seems to have blinders on.”

Jan Willem Goudriaan added, “Despite repeated demands from European employers and trade unions to discuss this issue with the Commission, the social partners have still not been heard. To address the Commission and Council’s lack of urgency, EPSU will organise a protest during the Council of Ministers for Health meeting in Brussels on 9 December.

As the Commission was announcing the EU4Health budget, EPSU participated in the launch of an ETUI report on psychosocial risks in the health and long-term care sector. The research featured is based on evidence gathered in different countries. The conclusion: lack of staff causes high levels of stress, leading to health problems for workers and starting a vicious circle. The report can be found here.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) brings together trade unions from across Europe and represents over 8 million public service workers. It is the representative European trade union organisation in the health and social care sector (all professions and public, not-for profit and private operators).

More information on the EPSU action on December 9th here