Health and care workers need meaningful European policy - not words

State of the Union photo

(28 September 2023) Following the comments of Ursula Von den Leyen in her State of the Union (SOTEU) address and the comments of other DG SANTE officials on the issue of the health and care workforce, the Federation of European Public Service Unions wants to point out that political speeches need to be followed by concrete policies and concrete proposals.

Jan Willem Goudriaan states "It's disappointing that the State of the Union speech of Commission President Von der Leyen refers to shortages of health workers - but does not announce any initiative to address these shortages with governments, health unions and employers. It is incredible that the Director General of DG Sante can call this a 'powerful mention' in her speech at the European Health Forum in Gastein. There is a lack of understanding that that health systems are in crisis due to lack of staff - and that Europe is not ready for the next pandemic.

EPSU has been clearly highlighting the issue of staff shortages to the European Commission, Council and the European Parliament.

So far EPSU has not been contacted by the Commission. We are very disappointed that no concrete measures to address staff shortages were presented during Von der Leyen's speech. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides was similarly unwilling to put the issue on the agenda of healthcare meetings during a recent meeting with EPSU. Political announcements must be more than a smoke screen for inaction.