Following the comments of Ursula Von den Leyen in her State of the Union address and the comments of other DG SANTE officials on the issue of the health and care workforce, EPSU wants to point out that political speeches need to be followed by concrete policies and concrete proposals.
Safe and effective staffing levels
Quality public services depend on having safe and effective staffing levels. This is crucial in health and social services but is also important in a range other public services. It is also about ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff who are otherwise overworked and under pressure to cover for staff shortages. Recruitment and retention and training and continuous professional development are key elements in working to achieve and maintain safe and effective staffing levels.
The public sector unions representing health and social care workers, younion and GÖD, organised a protest outside the Ministry of Health earlier this month to warn of imminent burn out of the health sector. The unions are calling on the government to take urgent action on staff shortages and to convene a national health summit. Younion and GÖD presented new calculations on the growing staffing gap in the health sector with a national shortage of 3369 nurses in state, community and district hospitals, an increase of 19.2% compared to May of this year. With 986 vacancies for doctors, more
Members of the UNISON, Unite, GMB and RCM trade unions joined five other unions in coordinated strike action over pay on 21 and 22 September. Workers in the province are frustrated by the low level of pay offered to civil service workers, the complete lack of a pay offer in the health service and the continuing problems with staffing shortages. The unions are particularly frustrated about the fact that many public service workers in England, Scotland and Wales have aleady accepted pay offers and that the pay gap between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is increasing. The ETUC sent a
On September 7th, 2023, EPSU met with the European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) to discuss the pressing need for improved coordination of joint firefighting operations.
The ver.di trade union is mobilising for a day of action on 20 September to highlight the critical financial situation facing hospitals with many threatened with insolvency. Higher inflation and soaring energy costs have compounded existing problems, hit investment plans and job cuts are possible. Ver.di is backing calls by the German Hospital Association for support from both federal and regional governments to guarantee the maintenance of services. The unions’ demands also focus on the need for good working conditions and training provision, secure jobs and funding for higher pay along with
The SINDLEX trade union federation has been negotiating for three years to try to secure improvements in pay and conditions for a range occupations in the Ministry of Interior including police, prison staff, emergency workers and firefighters. The union is calling for pay commensurate with these workers’ responsibilities and competences. It also wants the government to end the moratorium on recruitment and tackle the serious understaffing that has led to pressure on remaining staff and high levels of overtime which often goes unpaid. EPSU sent a letter to the Prime Minister in support of the
The GÖD and younion trade unions have formed a nationwide alliance for public health, calling on the federal government to act quickly and decisively to prevent the burnout of the public health system and above all to tackle the shortage of skilled workers across all occupational groups. The unions estimate an overall shortfall of around 26000 full-time workers. Their main demands include: adapting services to the number of employees by establishing reliable rosters to reduce the risk of overwork; applying a tax exemption on pay from the 32nd hour of the working week as a short-term measure to
The FNV trade union is preparing for negotiations covering maternity workers that are set to begin at the end of September. The union is concerned that salaries in maternity care have been the lowest in the care sector for years and higher pay is important to attract more workers to address staffing shortages. The FNV is aiming for a main increase of 14.3%, based on the inflation rate of October 2022. It argues that pay for maternity nurses has been eroded by inflation with only a 3% wage increase in 2022 and no pay rise at all in 2021. The union is looking to new research to be published
EPSU recently held a productive discussion with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, to tackle the critical staff shortages facing healthcare and care workers in Europe.
Survey evidence from members of the Kommunal trade union paints a worrying picture of staffing levels in homes for the elderly over the summer. The union asked its local union representatives about staffing levels with as many as 62% saying that staffing will be insufficient and only 3% stating that staffing will be adequate. Four out of five also said that staffing will be similar to last year or worse while only 9% said things had improved. Kommunal argues that the situation for staff in elderly care is catastrophic and year after year, they are forced to work harder and faster to cover the
The OSZSP health and social care union has cited official statistics showing a shortage of 3000 nurses across the country to underline its longstanding message that urgent action is needed to recruit and retain health workers. The union further warns that on current trends and without action the shortage could rise to 13000 in five years’ time. The union makes clear that excessive workloads and long hours are key factors in deterring young people from joining health professions and that the government’s proposal to increase overtime limits will only add to the problem, while threatening the
The trade union-linked Hans Böckler research organisation has published a new survey uncovering worrying gaps in childcare provision across the country. It says that 10 years after the legal right to childcare from the age of one came into force, there is a shortage of childcare places. Further, it reveals that a large proportion of working or job-seeking parents who officially have a place for their child don’t have reliable care, with 57% confronted with reductions in childcare hours and/or even temporary closures of facilities due to staff shortages this spring. Two-thirds of those surveyed
The strike by retained firefighters over pay and staffing was due to go ahead on 26 July after being suspended by the SIPTU union to allow for a Labour Court hearing. At the hearing the employers failed to produce an acceptable offer and the date for action was confirmed by the union. Meanwhile, the Fórsa trade union is balloting members in its health and welfare division over two disputes – one in relation to career development and the other in relation to the excessive use of agency staff and external consultants. Both unions, along with the INMO trade union are also continuing to campaign