On 26 January 2023 union representatives met for the fourth time within the framework of EPSU Health Care Assistants network. Almost 30 members from 15 countries, ranging from Ireland to Lithuania, exchanged good practices and information in relation to health care assistants (HCAs) in their countries. According to the EPSU definition HCAs are workers employed in the health and social care sector who do not perform the jobs of other health and social care professionals.
The network was set up in 2021 as an outcome of EPSU affiliates’ commitment to improve working conditions, trade union organization and generally better recognition and support for this important, yet somehow forgotten, group in health and social care sector. Today’s meeting, apart from exchanging information, good practices and successes of affiliates, discussed subjects related to the benefits of registration of HCAs as well as how to use European initiatives in relation to skills - in particular during the EU Year of Skills. Last year EPSU published a Report on Benefits of Registration of Health Care Assistants, based on research from five countries: Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Spain and Poland. The report demonstrates how successful unions can be in the registration of HCAs and how their registration could be used to improve their working conditions. The discussion on the registration was followed by a presentation on EU skills initiatives by Agnes Roman from the ETUC - and a discussion on how we can use the EU initiatives to improve the skills of HCAs. EPSU is very active in the area of skills in the healthcare sector, for instance by adopting a joint position with HOSPEEM on Continuous Professional Development and also by joining this year the European project on digital skills (BeWell).
Finally, participants discussed further activities of the network, including possible research on various topics. One of them will be to examine the difference in wages of HCAs between countries and between health and social care sectors (public and private), as well as to compare education requirements between the countries, which could be done by updating the EU report from 2018 on Core Competences of Healthcare Assistants in Europe.