Joint statement on EU and healthcare

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers Association (HOSPEEM) have jointly signed a declaration on health services in the EU.

EPSU-HOSPEEM Joint declaration – December 2007

  HOSPEEM General Secretary Godfrey Perera, and EPSU head of Health, Karen Jennings sign joint declaration on Health Services

The declaration, which marks the first formal joint position between the EU social partners for the hospital sector, sets out clear principles upon which the management, financing and delivery of healthcare in the EU should be based.

The declaration is particularly timely as the European Commission is scheduled to publish a draft directive on cross-border healthcare in the coming weeks. The Commission draft has already caused some controversy on the way cross-border mobility of patients (a phenomenon that currently involves 1% of EU patients) should be regulated.

The Secretary General of HOSPEEM, Godfrey Perera stated that, “this declaration sends a clear signal that healthcare employers and workers have the interests of patients at the heart of our work. For that reason, we call for decisions on health services to be based on what is best for the patient, not on political theories or on the expansion of internal market rules.”

The EPSU Secretary General, Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, added that, “As the recognised social partners in the hospital sector, we hope that this declaration allows the European Commission to realise that the foundation of quality healthcare in the EU is equal access for all, based on medical need, and not an open market based on cost and ability to pay.”

Key passages in the declaration:

• It is not for the European Institutions to impose market and/or competition mechanisms in the health care sector, which could have as consequence the lowering of standards and increasing costs of health care systems and thus diminishing the accessibility to care.

• Health care should therefore be organised on the basis of common European social values including solidarity, social justice and social cohesion.

• They should also follow the principles of general interest, like equality, accessibility and quality.

• It is essential that EU-internal market or competition rules do not limit the EU Member states’ autonomy in the implementation of these national responsibilities.

The launch of the European Social Dialogue in the Hospital Sector in September 2006 is a crucial step in the development of industrial relations in Europe, as it gives the recognized social partners EPSU and HOSPEEM the possibility to take joint actions on the field of human resources, employment and social policies by using the social dialogue instruments. It also gives employers and workers both jointly and individually the possibility to give direct formal input on EU polices affecting the hospital sector and its workers. As employers’ and workers’ representatives we (the social partners) also want to take up our responsibilities as European social partners according to the provisions of article 138 of the European Treaty. Policy initiatives on the field of cross-border health care have many social aspects and will affect management and labour.