World Health Day 2022: investment in health and social care vital to address increasing staff shortages

World Health Day 7 April 2022

(Brussels, 6 April 2022) Two years of global pandemic exposed the deficiencies in Europe’s health and care systems – and it’s time to protect the workers who ensured its survival, says the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).

The past two years have shown that the durability of these systems strongly depends on the work of health and social care workers. It is only thanks to their dedication - sometimes paid with a heavy price – that our societies were protected and our daily lives are returning to normal. The commitment of health and social care workers must not be forgotten.

Marking World Health Day 2022, EPSU called on policymakers to transform two years of ‘applause’ into visible, long-lasting and direct change in order to safeguard the resilience of the health and care sectors. Improved working conditions; health and safety; and investment are all vital elements of this preparedness, but of the utmost importance are safe staffing levels.

As the representative of 8 million workers across the continent - the majority in health and social care - EPSU calls on the EU and national governments to urgently address workforce shortages. To that end, EPSU has issued a set of recommendations for both European and national policy makers to improve staffing in these sectors.

It is also crucial to reverse the commercialisation of care. EPSU has long warned of the consequences of the commercialisation of these sectors, and the Orpea scandal has unfortunately exemplified these warnings. The Orpea Group, Europe’s largest for-profit care provider, has been embroiled in scandal since the publication of Les fossoyeurs (‘The Gravediggers’) in January 2022. The book exposed the consequences of the group’s cost-cutting and mismanagement, from elder abuse to workers’ rights violations. The scandal shows that the current approach of multinational companies making profits at the expense of care recipients and workers needs to be changed.

The future of the health and care sector depends on the workers. More than ever, we must support them to make our public services resilient.

Read EPSU’s World Health Day statement in full here.


For press, please contact Chloe Kenny (, +32 (0) 494 89 48 80)

EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions. lt is the largest federation of the ETUC and comprises 8 million public service workers from over 250 trade unions across Europe. EPSU organises workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local, regional and central government, in all European countries including the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. lt is the recognised regional organisation of Public Services lnternational (PSI).