The 2021 edition of the State of Health in the EU’s Companion Report highlighted the main conclusions from the analysis of 29 countries. One of the three conclusions is on the need to address shortages of healthcare professionals and to think about the needs of the workforce in the future. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has, with the challenges related to the health workforce shortages, similar to all pre-existing challenges, exacerbated the impact they had on health systems’ resilience. The availability and quality of the healthcare workforce are key for effective health system performance and recovery. To deliver safe healthcare, the workforce must be adequately supported, protected, and equipped. Future health systems depend on people and investing in the future of health systems means investing in the health workforce of the future. As societal and technical evolutions occur, the health workforce must rapidly change and adapt to safeguard patients and their wellbeing, as well as their professional existence. Healthcare is provided by people to people but sometimes healthcare workers are left with the hopeless feeling that they are ‘working together’ alone. 

In addition to workforce planning and forecasting, as well as care professionals’ recruitment and retention; training has been high on the priority agendas at the European level to support regional and national health systems. More than clinical skills, green and digital skills, or leadership and communication skills, resilience training has been identified, in addition to psychological support, as a needed tool to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce.  

With the ever-changing context of health systems and the many paradigm shifts created by COVID-19, some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What are the needs of the health workforce that must be addressed?
  • What are the key areas to invest in to support the health workforce?
  • How will their education and training needs change?
  • How do we address challenges relating to the shortage and mobility of professionals?
  • How can health managers support professional collaborations and relationships?  

Have you carried out research focusing on the health workforce? Would you be interested in sharing your results with the health management community? Don’t forget to submit your abstract before Friday, 4 March at 17:00 CET. You will find all the relevant information for the Call for Abstracts here.