by | May 6, 2024 | Reports

Webinar Summary: Addressing the Health and Care Workforce Crisis webinar

In the context of the ticking time bomb that the health and care workforce crisis is, EPHA has hosted a webinar to launch its most recent position paper on the issue. The discussion engaged key actors representing the civil society and policymakers. On the menu were: conveying the position of the health civil society, identifying avenues for action, and issuing recommendations for policy. 

Keynote presentations: 

Clémentine Richer Delforge (Policy Manager, EPHA) presented the context in which EPHA’s position paper has been developed, its main content, and recommendations for EU and national policymakers, and stakeholders in the sector. Overall, the position paper highlights the need for a strong and overarching governance approach and reinforced primary care. The suggested measures refer to the workforce’s working conditions and mental health, gender equality, education and training, skills recognition, labour mobility, cross-border and interprofessional cooperation, the attractiveness of the sector, and organisational cultures. Indeed, strong investments in the sector are required to tackle the pressing issues that have been challenging the resilience and sustainability of health systems. 

Pedro Facon (RIZIV – INAMI) presented the perspective of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for which he is overseeing health workforce issues. Although the workforce question remains under the competence of Members States, two broad areas for EU intervention were identified. Indeed, the presentation highlighted the need for a dedicated EU strategy, leveraging EU instruments to support Member States in their national health workforce strategies. Pedro Facon stressed that to address this crisis, it is necessary to focus on the whole “HR cycle”, which includes planning, recruitment and training, skills development, working conditions, retention and reactivation. Then, the issue of some generic EU regulatory frameworks that have an impact on national health workforce strategies while not being tailored to the sector was also raised. These include the Professional Qualifications Directive, the Proportionality Test Directive and the e-Commerce Directive. An in-depth assessment of these EU legal frameworks is therefore necessary, and the Belgian Presidency is currently working on building consensus on this long-term goal. 

The current EU regulations are not good enough and strong enough for the challenges we are confronted with.

Pedro Facon

Panel discussion

Mariëlle Bemelmans (Director, Wemos) briefly introduced Wemos’ work in two EU projects: the AHEAD project on medical deserts, and the Pillars of Health project, studying intra-European mobility of health and care professionals. Mariëlle Bemelmans underlined how territorial imbalances compromise the right of health for all and ambitions to achieve universal health coverage, as well as enlarge health inequalities. A plan, and not a strategy, is therefore needed. This could be based on the five pillars of the WHO’s Framework for Action for the Health and Care Workforce, adopted by the members of the European Regional Committee, in October 2023, in Astana. These are: retain and recruit, build supply, optimise performance, plan, invest. The question of the mobility of the workforce and the role of data were also discussed. 

A Health Workforce Strategy is not enough: we need a Plan!

Mariëlle Bemelmans

Giorgia Soldà, MD (Advocacy Lead, European Network of Medical Residents in Public Health) gave an overview of the current main educational challenges. These include the need for training opportunities and continuous professional development on climate change, communication and digital skills. Giorgia Soldà also shared some reflections on the issues of mentoring, university curricula and equity within the sector. 

It’s key to prioritise skills transition, continuous education, and improved working conditions. Key strategies include implementing customised training programs that address digital transformation and climate change adaptation, fostering inclusive mentorship, and addressing systemic barriers, especially within medical education. Ensuring mental health support and developing long-term workforce planning are essential for building resilience and enhancing overall effectiveness.

Giorgia Soldà

During the webinar, the panellists discussed also questions related to the comparability of institutions, the integration of new skills, technology and innovation, retention strategies and the mental health of the workforce. 


During the closing remarks, Pedro Facon stressed the importance of strong Council conclusions to guide the work of the next European Commission in developing a focused and targeted health and care workforce strategy. The importance of working and cooperating with all relevant stakeholders was reiterated, as well as investments in the sector. Keeping health high on the political agenda is, indeed, crucial. 

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