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After more than one year of work and negotiations, involving a number of members from both employers' organisations and the trade unions, HOSPEEM and EPSU on 2 June 2016 - in the context of a meeting of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital/Health Care Sector - on the Joint Declaration on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Life-long Learning (LLL) for all health workers in the EU. Final adaptations were made in the months up to October 2016, after consultation with the affiliates respectively. The final consolidated version was elaborated on 8 November 2016.
Please note that the Belgian and French trade unions of EPSU's France-Benelux Constituency support the Joint Declaration. They, however, have two reservations as to two formulations regarding the employers’ responsibility in the final wording of the text in French in the sections “Definitions” and “Roles and Responsabilities”. The reformulation supported by the Belgian and French trade unions is included in the five language versions (EN, FR, DE, ES and SV) accessible below. The first remark indicated by * on p. 2 of the English and French language versions reads: Le collège franco-belge soutient la déclaration conjointe mais en remplaçant la formulation dans les dispositions sur la responsabilité par les termes suivants: «Dans le contexte de l’emploi, la responsabilité du CPD obligatoire incombe à l’employeur.» Translated into English: The Belgian and French trade unions of EPSU's France-Benelux Constituency support the Joint Declaration, but by replacing the wording on the employer’s responsibility by the following wording: “In an employment context the employer has the responsibility for obligatory CPD." The second remark indicated by ** on p. 6 the English and French language versions reads: Le collège franco-belge soutient la déclaration conjointe mais en remplaçant la formulation dans les dispositions sur la responsabilité par les termes suivants: «La FPC obligatoire incombe à l’employeur.» Translated into English: The Belgian and French trade unions of EPSU's France-Benelux Constituency support the Joint Declaration, but by replacing the wording on the employer’s responsibility by the following wording: "The employer has the responsibility for obligatory CPD."
In a first section the declaration highlights a number of reasons why providing framework conditions for all health workers to have access to CPD and LLL is essential. Amongst those are the following advantages for both the management and the workers/health professionals: 1) Maintain and even improve quality and safety of patient care and healthcare outcomes; 2) Improve organisational performance that contributes to delivery of the best possible quality of patient care; 3) Ensure health staff have the knowledge, skills and competences required and remain fit for practice; 4) Encourage multi-disciplinary working; 5) Create attractive career pathways – valuing the workforce and offering a career in health for life.
The Joint Declaration explains the purposes of the document and the joint work of HOSPEEM and EPSU on CPD and LLL and also elaborated on role of social partners in this regard. Social partners could 1) actively promote the development of learning environment and the establishment of CPD programmes in the healthcare sector for all health workers at national, regional, local and team level, 2) stimulate, foster and sustain the involvement of health workers of all ages and all professions in CPD (and LLL) activities, 3) negotiate workplace and sectoral agreements and insofar influence the resource allocation for CPD and LLL and enter into tripartite arrangements with governments and public authorities or 4) ensure health staff have access to support at the workplace regarding their CPD and LLL aspirations.
In the second part - "Statement of principles" - a number of principles that should guide the activities of social partners in the hospital/health care sector in the field of CPD and LLL are presented and further elaborated upon. For EPSU the following aspects presented under the four headings "core business", "roles and responsibilities", "equality of access" and "mode of delivery" are of particular importance:
- The underlying aim of any CPD activity is the maintenance and improvement of quality of care and patient safety. Any CPD activity also aims at improving the working conditions, the quality and safety of work of the health workforce. In order to function well, CPD must be linked to the organisational and managerial priorities of healthcare service providers. If this does not happen CPD can be marginalised and seen as “add-on” activity, whereas CPD should form a vital component supporting the organisation’s core business.
- CPD (and where agreed LLL) are a means of promoting continuous improvement of care quality and patient safety, to deliver services that are safe, patient-centred and efficient. Patient care should be evidence-based in line with the most up to date research and good practice, and therefore requires constant upgrading and upskilling of the workforce.
- CPD (and where agreed LLL) lead to a more effective and improved recruitment and retention of healthcare staff and are linked to strategic workforce planning. By offering staff the opportunity to enrich their working lives, experience greater job satisfaction and career progression if appropriate, CPD and LLL can contribute to creating a sustainable base for an increasingly ageing workforce.
Roles and responsibilities
- Member States are responsible for encouraging CPD in their countries, in accordance with their specific national procedures and through the appropriate public authorities.
Equality of access
- CPD and LLL should be accessible and available for all health workers in an equal manner across e.g. all age groups, occupational groups, working patterns and types of contracts. It should not be limited to the (five) health professions benefiting from automatic recognition (doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and pharmacists).
- More specifically, groups traditionally under-represented in CPD and LLL (workers aged 45+, part-time workers, bedside or front-line workers, workers in night shifts and less qualified workers) should benefit more from these activities than this is currently the case in most EU Member States. Investing in training for these categories of workers is not only fundamental for their crucial role in the care delivery process but also provides a more than average return on investment and helps creating a more sustainable labour market policy.
- Employers and employee organisations should work together to create opportunities for professional development and learning and to eliminate barriers to access to CPD and LLL. This has to include measures to protect time for CPD (and where agreed also LLL), within working time where relevant and required, and to create safe and adequate staffing levels so that staff can be replaced to participate in training activities. It should also cover how to finance CPD/LLL activities. This could also cover related costs of individuals when participating in CPD activities.
Mode of delivery
- Taking local specificities into consideration when designing CPD systems is very important; respecting the different national legal and regulatory frameworks existing in individual Member States is fundamental.
EPSU and HOSPEEM also highlight that initiatives in the field of CPD and LLL with the aim of preserving or imporving the current and future qualifications and competences of the health workforce should be seen as investment, not at cost.
A separate document with good practice examples will be elaborated during 2017 in the context of a joint EPSU-HOSPEEM EU-funded project.
You can also visit HOSPEEM's page dedicated to the Joint Declaration.