A new report from the Eurofound research agency analyses the extent of labour shortages across Europe and some of the measures being taken to address them. One of the main sectors of interest is health and social care and the report highlights the risks posed by such shortages to the viability of high-quality care provision. These were seen as particularly acute in Germany and in the Nordic countries, where shortages of skilled staff have led to long waiting times for patients. They also mean high workloads for professionals, ultimately contributing to higher turnover rates and reducing the attractiveness of the sector even further. The report acknowledges that the problems facing health and social care are longstanding but have been worsened by the pandemic, with significant shortages in many countries linked to challenging working conditions, high pressure work situations, being subject to harassment and violence by third parties, and comparatively low wages when viewed in relation to the years of training required and the level of associated responsibility. The report says that these highly pressurised conditions and shortage situations have been further amplified during the pandemic and provides some examples of how countries are trying to address them through action on pay and conditions, staffing levels and training. Recent news from EPSU affiliates in Sweden (Kommunal) and Denmark (FOA) underline the seriousness of the situation, felt more acutely over the summer months as holidays compound the effect of existing staff shortages and overwork.
Health and social care feature in report on labour shortages
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A new report from municipal services union Kommunal reveals how the pandemic affected workers across the sectors in which it organises. Based on interviews with nurses, cleaners, paramedics, caretakers and other workers, the report confirms the huge impact on healthcare where workers’ efforts have been central to the management of the pandemic. Employees have had to make huge sacrifices, working extra shifts, double shifts and overtime, with many authorities having to hire temporary staff, get pensioners back to work and with staff having holidays cancelled or being transferred to different