Europeanisation of health policies and systems: challenges for the health workers

European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) organises the biggest gathering in 2011 of health workers in Europe to discuss the effects of the crisis on health and Social Services workers in Bucharest on 18 and 19 October.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) organises 8 million workers across the public sector. One of our core sectors is Health and Social Services. EPSU is the biggest organization of workers in Europe in the health sector. Over 100 health workers from more than 27 European countries will attend this Conference on 18 and 19 October in in Bucharest, Romania one of the countries most heavily affected by the crisis.

This particular group of workers is very affected by the austerity measures that are being imposed across Europe, inside and outside the EU. The Conference is going to be a key moment for the establishment a coordinated response to such measures, as well as an opportunity to take stock of the current reform of health systems at European and national levels.

The issues at stake for health workers range from the Europeanisation of National Health Care Systems and Services to how health care is going to be financed against the backdrop of the crisis and austerity policies. Health workers are going to explain and give feed back on the consequences of the crisis on health care in different European countries. It will also propose alternatives for financing national health systems. An Equitable and universal access to high quality and affordable health care services with the crisis situation is a major concern. In our view this can only be done by investing in health and social care services – including using revenues from a FTT as an additional source of financing – as these sectors contribute significantly to both economic and employment growth as well as to social cohesion and inclusion

Another issue that is of deep concern for health workers is the Cross-border mobility and migration in the sector. We identify a North-South and East-West flux of health care workers as well as cuts in public expenditure in the health sector. It is essential for European trade unions to highlight the effects this tendencies will have in our health system in the medium and long-term future. Linked to this issue we will discuss the effective recruitment and retention policies in different European countries and the problem of the ageing health workforce and how public authorities are dealing with these challenges. These are two of the key issues currently being dealt with in the European Social Dialogue in the Hospital Sector, in addition to issues related to occupational health and safety. In December 2010 the social partners at EU-level a Frameworks of Action “Recruitment and Retention” on behalf of their members adopted to frame and guide their work for this and the coming year. EPSU hopes that this dialogue will lead to a constructive agreement like the “medical sharps agreement”.

The outcome of the debate will be presented at a Press Conference taking place on 19 October 2011 at 13:30 in Berlin Room (in the Rin Grand Hotel, Vitan - Bârzeşti Street, Bucharest). The Press conference with the participation of: Anne Marie Perret, President of EPSU Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, General Secretary of EPSU, and Cristina Iftimescu, President of the SANITAS trade union (Romania), will take place in English and Romanian.

For information: in Romanian: Marina Irime, [->irimie@ping.ro] ; 00 40 21 319 72 96 or 00 40 722 211 461 .In English: Pablo Sanchez, [->psanchez@epsu.org] 00 32 474 62 66 33

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