Staff shortages, mental health and social dialogue discussed by health and social care trade unions

EPSU Standing Committee on Health & Social Services, 5 October 2023, Brussels

(17 October 2023) On 5 October 2023 health and social care union representatives met for the Standing Committee of Health and Social Services. 45 participants, including external speakers, discussed developments in the health and care sector taking place since the previous meeting in February of this year, including the urgent issue of staff shortages, retention and recruitment.

The official formation of the new Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee – Social Services was celebrated with some details discussed. 

Following up to the presentation of the research of ETUI on Growing Competences of the EU in health care and how the EU could contribute to addressing staff shortages two presentations were given to committee members on the WHO and the EU initiatives to address staff shortages, and other issues, on the Pan- European Level.

Yana Andersen, Technical Officer, Human Resources for Health Country Health Policies and Systems (CPS), WHO-Europe gave a presentation on the Bucharest Declaration, the Health and care framework of action 2023-2030. The Bucharest declaration aims to address issues such as staff shortages, insufficient recruitment, difficulties in attracting workers, skills mismatch, unattractive employment, mental health and burnout, and insufficient organisation of work and calls to improve the supply of health and care workers, improve the retention and recruitment of health and care workers, better strategic health and care workforce planning, as well as smarter public investments.

Katarzyna Ptak- Bufkens, Policy Officer, DG- Sante presented the DG Sante Project Joint Action on HEalth woRkfOrce to meet health challEngeS (JA HEROS), a project on health workforce planning and forecasting, developed on initiative by the EU Member States. This project will provide help to the Member States in their country specific challenges, such as retention, skill-mix, and staff shortages. 

The committee members expressed their solidarity with Belgian colleagues who were demonstrating that day, and also with the Georgian Ambulance workers, many of whom have lost their jobs due to joining the strike action over the right to strike.