Social partnership solutions and good practice models to reduce psychosocial risks and burdens in health care

(28 September 2018) In 2017 and 2018 EPSU was project partner and actively participated in and contributed to the kick-off meeting and final conference on 30 May 2018 in Hannover (see presentation) of the project "Social partnership solutions and good practice models to reduce psychosocial risks and burdens in health care" (in German: "Sozialpartnerschaftliche Lösungen und gute Praxismodelle zur Reduzierung von psychosozialen Risiken und Belastungen im Gesundheitswesen – ein europäisches Entwicklungs- und Transferprojekt von West nach Südosteuropa"). The project was coordinated by "Arbeit und Leben Niedersachsen Ost" and involved EPSU members from six countries, Bulgaria (Health Trade Union - CITUB), France (CFDT Sante Services Sociaux), Germany (ver.di) Hungary (Independent Trade Union of Health Workers/Egészségügbyen Dolgozók Függetien Szakservezete), Romania (SANITAS/Federaţia SANITAS din România) and Serbia (Health and Social Care Trade Union - Nezavisnost/Granski Sindikat Zdravstva i Socialne Zaštite - Nezavisnost).

Social partner organisations from Bulgaria, Germany, France, Hungary, Romania and Serbia have worked together with the aim of establishing the conditions for health-preserving work in service facilities in the health sector (especially in hospitals). The project is primarily aimed at transferring experience from Western Europe to the countries in South-East Europe (SEE), and adapting it to the local conditions. After a comprehensive stocktaking, root cause analysis and comparison, examples of best practices were used to identify recommended activities for social partners at the national and the European level that also reflect the specific situation in South-East Europe. The project contributed to promoting, deepening and advancing the challenges related to the prevention and reduction of psycho-social risks and stress at work as also addressed in the context of the European sectoral social dialogue in the hospital and health sector, in a first project and second project, both also covering the topic of work-related stress and psychosocial risks in the hospital and health care sector.

According to recent research results, 50% of the sick leave days occur due to work-related stress and psychosocial risks. These figures are even higher in the new member states of the European Union. The economically higher vulnerability of these countries makes the issue psychosocial risks highly significant. This is partly true due to the different background of the health care sectors’ history in this region. For example 66% of the Bulgarian health care workers have stress problems caused by work load and 60% are suffering from stress because of bad shift systems, while 40% indicate time pressure as the main reason for stress related illness. In Hungary 60% of the workers, describe the time pressure as the most impairing factor at work. In health care sector these are virulent problems. The reasons behind are:
•    Higher number of partients to treat due to aging society.
•    Aging workforce, shift work and dealing with age related long term illness, dying and death
•    Insufficient funding of health care, including hospitals
•    Restructuring programmes initiated by governments and/or state agencies, often not accompanied with adequate social dialogue mechanisms which would well involve the social partners
•    Out-migration of the health workforce and related strong shortagees of staff
•    In addition, in care sector there is a significant majority of women working, who have often been in the first line exposed to the doubled load of work and family life.

You can read here the final project report with the recommendations (14 September 2018) in EN and DE. You can watch on the project homepage videos produced for the final conference (in all project partners' languages).