The document provides a first insight into challenges and lessons learnt by hospital and healthcare employers, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. First commonalities between HOSPEEM Members are presented, followed by detailed information on the respective countries. The information collected ranged from May 2020 – 16 December 2020. Links to resources and references can be found in the footnotes.
The challenges and lessons learnt are clustered around four areas:
- Organisational challenges in terms of health workforce and shortages;
- Organisational challenges related to Personal Protective Equipment;
- The organisation of training for health workforce usually not working in the ICU setting;
- Risk assessment for the health workforce to assess their health status and “being fit for work”.
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.
WHO technical resources – useful links:
Image credits: Courtesy of the World Health Organisation, 2020
EU-OSHA recently launched a visualisation tool designed to allow easy and quick access to the results of its three-year project “Safer and healthier work at any age”. The European Commission concluded a delegation agreement with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) to carry out a pilot project entitled ‘Safer and healthier work at any age — occupational safety and health (OSH) in the context of an ageing workforce’. This was based on a decision and request of the European Parliament, whose objective was to further investigate possible ways of improving the safety and health of older people at work, as the ageing of the workforce will have a serious financial impact on workers, employers and taxpayers.
Thus, the project aimed to assess the prerequisites for OSH strategies and systems to take account of an ageing workforce and improve risk prevention and health protection for all throughout working life. The key results of the project are presented, including data on demographics, employment, working conditions, and health, as well as examples of OSH policies across Europe addressing the challenges of an ageing workforce. This data visualisation tool presents the key findings of the project and allows users to explore the data in an interactive way by comparing countries and searching for policies, strategies and programmes, among other possibilities.
The issue of the ageing workforce is represented using the ‘Age pyramid’, that is, an interactive graph showing historical data and the projections for the EU, provided by Eurostat. Next to this, some important figures show that this issue is closely related to OSH and working conditions.
The country insights section provides country specific information on initiatives to address the ageing of the workforce, including healthy life years expectancy, population age structure development, employment rate, workplace risk assessments data etc…
See more in the visualisation tool
Following the study visit to members’ organizations in the Baltic States, HOSPEEM visited its Irish member, the Irish Health Service – HSE on 17 April 2014.
During a meeting at the Irish Department of Health, the ongoing reform of the Irish health system was discussed. A deep reform of the system which is based on the 4 key interdependent pillars of health and wellbeing, service reform, structural reform and financial reform and that will change many aspects of the health service leading Ireland to a single-tier health service, supported by Universal Health Insurance (UHI) foreseen to be adopted in 2016.
At the HSE Corporate Employee Relations Services, Mr John Delamere, head of the Corporate Employee Relations (CERS) and representative of HSE within HOSPEEM, and the managers of CERS discussed with HOSPEEM their respective priorities. The focus was put in particular on the areas of common interest in the industrial relations and occupational health and safety fields, where CERS and HOSPEEM are closely working together and will further strengthen their cooperation.
The day was concluded by a visit to the Beaumont Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Ireland with 3,500 employees, 800 beds, with specialisation in neurosurgery, renal medicine and cancer care. HOSPEEM had the opportunity to meet the managing board of the hospital and to appreciate how, even when financial resources are limited innovative management measures and good cooperation with staff can help to maintain high standards of service delivered to patients.
HOSPEEM thanks John Delamere, Norah Mason and HSE CERS, as well as the Beaumont Hospital for the warm welcome and the fruitful exchange.
For more information: