Sure to treaty amendments, however pragmatism wanted –


Well being providers ought to be higher coordinated throughout the EU, based on social rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit. Amendments to the Lisbon Treaty ought to be thought of, alongside extra instant motion.

“We will solely resolve these many issues [in healthcare] by higher cooperation, higher coordination on the European degree,” the Commissioner mentioned at a European Institute of Well being and Sustainable Improvement (EIHSD) occasion.

“Due to this fact, I agree that we have now to vary a bit the chapter on well being coverage [in the Lisbon treaty]”.

Within the treaty, which was signed in 2007, frequent security considerations in public well being issues are ‘shared competence’, whereas safety and enchancment of human well being fall beneath Article 6 as supporting competence.

As such, the EU can solely intervene to assist, coordinate or complement the motion of its member states.

The Commissioner added that the timeframe for such a change is not sure, as this requires an inter-governmental convention. “That will occur in three, 4, or 5 years,” he mentioned on the occasion on 30 November.

“However I believe now we have now to be pragmatic and say well being has grow to be an necessary concern and we have now to see how we will use first what exists within the treaty,” he continued.

“Treaty amendments – sure. However within the meantime, life goes on and sadly, well being stays a difficulty so we have now to be pragmatic,” Schmit pressured.

Schmit emphasised that high-quality well being providers are a social proper.

Nevertheless, a September World Well being Organisation (WHO) report on the well being and care workforce in Europe warned that with out instant motion, well being and care workforce gaps within the European area may spell catastrophe.

The report mentioned that 40% of medical medical doctors are near retirement age in one-third of nations in Europe and Central Asia, warning that adequately changing retiring medical doctors – and different well being and care employees – can be a major coverage concern for governments and well being authorities within the coming years.

Coordination on the EU degree is required

One other key discovering was the poor psychological well being of the well being workforce, leading to workers leaving their jobs. The WHO report confirmed that 9 out of 10 nurses had declared their intention to stop.

The Commissioner described the danger of the workforce quitting because the ‘greatest hazard’ to well being methods.

“Lots of people take into consideration leaving the healthcare system as a result of individuals are exhausted, they don’t need to proceed not as a result of they don’t like their job however as a result of they’ve burnouts they usually can not sacrifice their household life or their life,” Schmit mentioned.

Moreover, well being employee availability varies five-fold worldwide. For instance, the density of nurses differs by 9 occasions between the nation with the bottom (Turkey) and highest (Monaco).

“The query of inside migration of healthcare individuals is a matter, however we have now to be cautious,” Schmit warned.

“The free motion of individuals is a key precept I agree with. However the free motion of individuals can’t be that the richest get the perfect, and the others must see how they’ll survive,” he mentioned, including that this impacts additionally nations outdoors of the EU.

To handle these advanced points Schmit urged member states to work collectively.

“There’s a want for coordination on the European degree and seeing what can we what can we enhance what may be finished,” he mentioned.

Defusing the ‘ticking time bomb’

The 12 months 2023 would be the European 12 months of Abilities, as introduced in October by Fee President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2022 State of the Union deal with.

“Lifelong studying on this sector is an essence, this can be very necessary,” Schmit mentioned. He pressured that as new applied sciences are being launched in lots of areas, the well being workforce must have alternatives “to be reskilled and upskilled”. 

He additionally pressured the significance of working circumstances and guaranteeing that workers are pretty paid, underlining that that is particularly necessary for nurses, whose jobs are sometimes undervalued.

The Commissioner highlighted that the difficulty of working circumstances and capability go hand in hand – if too many well being workers select to depart the career, those that keep are beneath better pressure. 

Furthermore, working with harmful substances, resembling some most cancers remedies, can entail dangers for many who deal with, put together and administer these medicinal merchandise, Schmit mentioned.

It’s estimated that 12 million healthcare employees yearly are uncovered to harmful or hazardous medicinal merchandise.

“We’ve got to ensure additionally well being and security for nurses and all well being employees,” he mentioned. 

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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