Hospitals and healthcare services have an important function in the society and their role evolved due either to the changes affecting the environment and the reforms of the healthcare systems. Health workforce represents a crucial component for the hospital and healthcare activity and, for this reason it raised interest in the debate at the European level. HOPE deals with this topic in several ways since years.
In May 2004, HOPE published in the framework of its working group related to health workforce issues a report “The Healthcare Workforce in Europe: Problems and Solutions”. The aim of the initial survey was to collect and analyze information on the health professional workforce (covering doctors, dentists, nurses and allied health professions) in HOPE member countries, and observer countries. The purpose was also to assess the implications for the workforce of demographic trends and other factors, including implementation of the European Working Time Directive for junior doctors and the draft directive on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and to identify strategies currently being pursued to tackling labor shortages and the scope for more coordinated approaches. Since then, HOPE committed itself in various activities related to health workforce issues: new roles and new skills; professional mobility; working time directive and social dialogue.
In 2009, the topic of the HOPE Agora closing the HOPE Exchange Programme was “New roles and new skills for Health Professionals” which results and findings were gathered in a report.
From 2013 to 2016, HOPE joined the Joint Action on European Health Workforce Planning and Forecasting as associated partner. The project, co-funded by the European Commission, aimed at creating a platform for collaboration and exchange between Member States, and at preparing the future of the health workforce. This platform supported Member States in taking effective and sustainable measures in view of the expected shortage in the health workforce at European and national level.
The Joint Action closing event took place in Mons (Belgium) on 3 and 4 May 2016. During the conference entitled “Towards sustainable health workforce for Europe”, the project partners presented the Joint Action’s main achievements:
- A handbook of good practices and methodologies, providing an overview of methods used in a selection of seven EU countries, and trialled in Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Moldavia/Romania;
- A study looking at the main drivers for change through to 2035, and implications for the health workforce in Europe;
- Data analysis to support improved data quality, availability and comparability, for the benefit of EU countries.
On 21 December 2017, the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union (COM(2017) 797 final). The proposal follows an evaluation of the Directive 91/533/ECC, the so called “Written Statement Directive”, that took part within the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).
To summarize, the proposal for a Directive would establish minimum rights related to working conditions for all employees regardless of the form of employment. HOPE published a Position Paper expressing concerns about the legal uncertainty it would create (lack of clarity in the definition of employer/employee) and the unnecessary costs it would generate for hospitals. In addition, it seems that this proposal is going beyond the scope of the European Union competencies as it would not respect the role and collective agreements of social partners.
Joint Action on European Health Workforce Planning and Forecasting
Registered Nurse Forecasting Study