European Hospital & Healthcare Employers’ Association

Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital and Healthcare Sector: Main activities and outcomes in 2020

In this document you can find the highlights of the work of the HOSPEEM-EPSU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital and Healthcare Sector. In 2020 the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital and Healthcare Sector  dealt with a wide range of topics in the framework of the EPSU-HOSPEEM Joint Work Programme and carried out project-related activities.

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Commitment to the WHO Charter on Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety

Brussels, 16 November

HOSPEEM expresses its commitment to the World Health Organizations’ Charter on Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety. We agree that the health, safety, and well-being of health workers is a prerequisite for an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides the already mentioned key measures, HOSPEEM commits to the following:

1. Establish synergies between health worker safety and patient safety policies and strategies.

Aim to ensure the health workers’ safety when implementing the HOSPEEM-EPSU Joint Declaration on CPD and LLL for All Health Workers in the EU, which has been adopted in 2016.

2. Develop and implement national programmes for better occupational health and safety of health workers.

Updating the HOSPEEM-EPSU Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention (2010) with lessons’ learnt from COVID-19 and previous joint projects on occupational safety and health.

3. Protect health workers from violence in the workplace.

Promote the implementation of the Multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work, signed in 2010 and reaffirmed in 2020.

4. Improve mental health and psychological well-being of the health workforce.

Collect lessons learnt from national sectoral social partners in the hospital sector in the context of COVID-19 and create space for the exchange of good practices on improving mental health and the psychological well-being of the health workforce.

5. Protect health workers from physical and biological hazards.

Monitoring the developments of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive 2004/37/EC concerning the inclusion of hazardous medicinal products and cytotoxic substances as well as the development of non-binding measures in this regard.

Active participation as Official Campaign Partner in the EU-OSHA Healthy Workplace Campaign Lighten the Load (2020-2022).

Promoting the implementation of the Medical Sharps Directive 2010/32/EU in the European Member States by strengthening synergies with other relevant stakeholders.

Aim to ensure availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), relevant to the roles and tasks performed, in adequate quantity, of appropriate fit and acceptable quality.

Download the HOSPEEM committment to the WHOs’ Charter on Health Worker Safety (Pdf)

Nb: WHO invites all Member States, intergovernmental organizations, international organizations and relevant stakeholders to support and endorse this charter by signing up to it.

Input for new initiatives at EU, national, regional or local level in the frame of the Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights

Brussels, 13 November 2020

The European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the envisioned Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular on Principle 8, which encourages the EU Member States to support the increased capacity of social partners to promote social dialogue.

Since HOSPEEM’s recognition as European sectoral social partner in 2006, we have been active in capacity building of national employers’ organisation in forms of EU-funded projects, focusing among others on East Central and Southern Europe, including accession countries [1],[2],[3] and by participating in the Eurofound research study on capacity building for effective social dialogue in the European Union. Besides HOSPEEM’s recruitment efforts, we met with former European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen’s cabinet staff, raising awareness and inquiring support from the European institutions. Likewise, we have sent meeting requests to various Permanent Representations to the EU to discuss this very topic.

As the recently published Eurofound representativeness study for the human health sector revealed, there are nine EU Member States[4] where employer organisations exist and active in collective bargaining but are not affiliated to HOSPEEM. As a direct consequence, those organisations and countries do not have the opportunity to represent their national interest and contribute to the agenda-setting and decision-making in the frame of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees. Additionally, their voices are not being heard when, for example, European sectoral social partners close framework agreements which can be transposed in binding legislation across the EU (cf. Council Directive 2010/32/EU). The study also noted that there are seven EU Member States[5] where “there is no sectoral employer organisation”.

Whereas HOSPEEM sees Eurofound’s findings as an excellent opportunity to increase its membership and hence its representation at European level, we also believe that European institutions and Members States miss the opportunity to draw on the full potential of EU legislation, such as TFEU Art. 154, further strengthening the delivery of a strong social Europe for just transitions.

We are aware that the existence of autonomous employer organisations, with the mandate to negotiate collective bargaining at the national level, is still limited in various EU Member States among others due to historical and organisational national structures. We, therefore, welcome the European Commission Communication on the 2020 European Semester: Country-specific recommendations highlighting that “a well-functioning social dialogue is key to ensure that measures taken are successful, inclusive and sustainable” and that “in some Member States there is clearly room for a better functioning social dialogue”.

To echo the quadripartite statement on the Relaunch of Social Dialogue[6], HOSPEEM would like to stress that trust, formal and timely consultation with the social partners as well as support through robust EU-funding is a pre-requisite for a well-functioning social dialogue. Furthermore, the independence of social dialogue and social partners from the national government and political influence is essential, to fully representing the interest of workers and employers alike.

We, therefore, call upon the European Commission, in collaboration with EU Member States and consultation with European social partners to develop coherent structures and implement robust mechanisms as well as initiatives for:

  • the formation of employer organisations on a national level; and
  • encourage already established employer organisations to become actively involved in European sectoral social dialogue structures while respecting national specificities and autonomy.
[1] HOSPEEM (2008) HOSPEEM-EPSU Project on Strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector in the new Member States and candidate countries https://hospeem.org/activities/projects/strengthening-social-dialogue-in-the-hospital-sector-in-the-new-member-states-and-candidate-countries/
[2] HOSPEEM (2011) HOSPEEM-EPSU Project on Strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector in the Baltic countries https://hospeem.org/activities/projects/strengthening-social-dialogue-in-the-hospital-sector-in-the-baltic-countries/
[3] HOSPEEM (2019) HOSPEEM-EPSU Project on Strengthening social dialogue in the hospital sector https://hospeem.org/activities/hospeem-epsu-project-2019-2020-on-strengthening-social-dialogue-in-the-hospital-sector-in-the-east-south-and-central-europe/
[4] Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, and Portugal (The Bulgarian employers’ organisation left HOSPEEM in beginning of 2020 and the Belgian employers’ organisation joined HOSPEEM mid-2020.)
[5] Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Malta, and Poland
[6] co-signed by the European Commission, the European Council, and the cross-sectoral social partners in June 2016

Download the HOSPEEM response to the EPSRS (Pdf)

Press Release on the Representativeness of the European Social Partner Organisations: Human Health Sector

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 12 November 2020

HOSPEEM welcomes the findings of the Eurofound representativeness study for the human health sector.

HOSPEEM calls for political support by the European Union and the Member States to promote social dialogue at the national level and to create an enabling environment for sectoral social partners in fostering capacity building processes.

HOSPEEM continues to be the most representative European hospital employers’ association, a leading voice in the EU sectoral social dialogue also initiating Council decision’s[1]. HOSPEEM’s members facilitate the most efficient provision of services while ensuring healthcare professionals and patients’ safety alike. Unlike any other sector, the COVID-19 pandemic is massively impacting the hospital sector, ranging from reorganising healthcare services and putting mental and physical strains on the health workforce and hospital employers, as highlighted in HOSPEEM’s statement on COVID-19. The European Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital Sector (SSDC HS) continues to be the primary European forum for sectoral social partners to address these and other relevant and challenging topics on both national and EU health agendas.

HOSPEEM believes that the political support by European institutions and Members States is needed to deliver on the envisaged Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular, the capacity building of social partners to promote social dialogue as well as on the Country-Specific Recommendations of the European Semester.

The European Commission and European Parliament indeed recognise the increasing importance of health, by proposing to build a European Health Union, to include health services in the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection and the Critical Infrastructure Directive. Together with the European Council, the institutions also agreed on a EUR 5.07 billion EU4Health budget[2].

The role and active involvement of sectoral social partners at EU level are therefore essential to ensure that their voice is heard.

[1] Eurofound (2020) European sectoral social partner organisations and their representativeness https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/fr/observatories/eurwork/representativeness-studies

[2] Amount in 2018 prices

Download the Press Release (Pdf)

HOSPEEM October Newsletter is published

In this October Newsletter edition, you find the HOSPEEM-EPSU joint position on the protection of workers from exposure to hazardous medicinal products given the European Commission study on this topic as well as information on the launch of the EU-OSHA Campaign 2020-2022 Healthy Workplaces ‘Lighten the Load’. This newsletter includes our Member’s news, EU news, attended and future events and publications relevant for hospital employers.

29 October 2020 HOSPEEM Newsletter 2020 – Issue 4

EU-OSHA Campaign – Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load

Brussels, 12 October 2020

The EU-level Sectoral Social Partners for the Hospital Sector (SSDC HS), the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) applied to become official campaign partner of the EU-OSHA Campaign 2020-2022 Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load.

Marta Branca, Vice-Secretary General of HOSPEEM, said: “Sustainable participation of all health professionals is the most direct contribution to dealing with potential workforce-related issues. HOSPEEM will continue to promote the creation and maintenance of the safest possible workplaces and to promote active participation in continuing professional development (CPD) and life-long learning (LLL) for all health professionals. Ergonomic design is needed to improve healthcare facilities and to overcome the possible future decline in numbers of healthcare workers. I am convinced that our work and initiatives in the field of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in the framework of the EU SSDC HS will lead to safer and healthier workplaces across Europe.”

Jan-Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary of EPSU, stressed that “MSDs are by far the most common work-related health problem among European workers. The social and economic consequences of this are now becoming abundantly clear. Millions of workers are no longer able to do certain tasks or even have to stop work altogether before retirement age. EPSU is strongly convinced that the wellbeing at work is a fundamental right, and we are ready to cooperate with employers to ensure it.”

Recent European statistics underline the need to address prevention of MSD in the health sector: The 2019 European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks showed that 59% establishments in the sector reported existing risk factors such as painful positions and 54% lifting or moving people or heavy loads. These findings are supported by results from the 6th European Working Conditions Survey, which highlighted that 47% of respondents working in the sector reported backache in the past 12 months.

To keep MSD high on the European and national agenda, coordinated responses from social partners are needed that are also in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU’s Framework Directive on OSH and the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work.
Next to becoming official campaign partners, we set out to:
1.) Update the existing HOSPEEM-EPSU Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention (2010);
2.) Continue the discussion among European social partners to exchange good practices and strategies in the field of MSD;
3.) Continue to exchange on the relevance of the current regulatory framework on MSD at European level.

Throughout the years, HOSPEEM and EPSU have considered MSD of great importance in the health sector, e.g. by carrying out a project on MSDs and psycho-social risks and stress at work. The cooperation of employers and trade unions is fundamental in successfully managing and preventing MSDs.

Download the Press Release

HOSPEEM-EPSU position on the European Commission study supporting the assessment of different options concerning the protection of workers from exposure to hazardous medicinal products

Brussels, 24/09/2020

Every year more than 12.7 million healthcare workers in Europe, including 7.3 million nurses, are potentially exposed to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic hazardous drugs. Studies show that hospital workers who handle cytotoxic drugs are three times more likely to develop malignancy and that nurses exposed to cytotoxic drugs are twice as likely to miscarry. The health hazard for handling these drugs is a significant concern as they are not only classified as potentially carcinogenic but also mutagenic (mutating genetic material) and reprotoxic (interfering with reproduction).

For HOSPEEM, it is particularly important to address handling techniques of hazardous medicinal products that are in line with national legislative specificities. While hospitals and healthcare employers are required to undertake risk assessments, it is clear that for example replacement of hazardous medicinal products is not an option for most cases, as patients still need these products for cancer and other treatments. Therefore, the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive need to clarify the terminology “technically possible” as stipulated in Article 5 (2, 3) “employers shall ensure that the carcinogen or mutagen is, in so far as is technically possible, manufactured and used in a closed system. Where a closed system is not technically possible, the employer shall ensure that the level of exposure of workers is reduced to as low a level as is technically possible.”

HOSPEEM and EPSU call the European Commission to include in its CMD4 report or accept parliamentary amendments for the revision of the CMD in 2020-2021 that include hazardous drugs, including cytotoxic drugs, as a category in Appendix I. Healthcare workers and patients deserve to be protected by legislation now through measures that are legally binding for all the actors in healthcare, with the best possible systems of work, technology as well as education and training to avoid the risk of toxic and genetic damage and associated diseases resulting from exposure to hazardous drugs.

FULL TEXT:

HOSPEEM-EPSU position on the European Commission study supporting the assessment of different options concerning the protection of workers from exposure to hazardous medicinal products

HOSPEEM July newsletter is published

In this July 2020 edition, you will find the Joint Statement on the 10th anniversary of the Multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work as well as the latest COVID-19 related news. This newsletter includes also other relevant news,  Member’s news, EU news, events and publications for hospital employers.

27 July 2020 HOSPEEM Newsletter 2020 – Issue 3

Zorgnet-Icuro joins HOSPEEM

Zorgnet-Icuro has recently joined HOSPEEM as an observer member.

Zorgnet Icuro is the employers’ association in Belgium representing the Flemish network of care organisations. The organisation aims to defend shared interests and represent them at Flemish, national and international level. The network also promotes knowledge and expertise sharing. More than 775 recognized care organizations are members such as general and acute hospitals, university hospitals, mental health services and facilities for elderly care, in particular residential care centers.

Joint Statement on the 10th anniversary of the Multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work

Brussels, 16 July 2020

A decade ago, the European Sectoral Social Partners, EPSU, UNI EUROPA, ETUCE, HOSPEEM, CEMR, EFEE, EuroCommerce, CoESS identified third-party violence and harassment at the workplace as one of the key health and safety challenges to face within the European Economic Area and signed the Multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence (TPV) and harassment related to work. In 2018, EUPAE and TUNED joined these organisations in their work to tackle this pressing issue.

To this date, the Guidelines remain the only instrument signed by multiple European sectoral Social Dialogue Committees and are considered one of the significant achievements of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue.

Today, the Guidelines’ signatories reaffirm that their respective sectors continue to address third-party violence and all forms of harassment related to work, ensuring that, in the upcoming years, each workplace has a targeted results-oriented policy, also in the context of initiatives of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Download the Joint statement