What essential skills would the European health sector professionals need?

28 September 2022

The European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care gave a platform to our EU HPP Stakeholder Network to present its newest report Essential skills for a resilient and effective European health workforce. The event was hosted by MEP Istvan Ujhelyi and welcomed representatives of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions.  

The speakers highlighted the importance of data collection both at the national and regional level and quicker data availability, which the European Health Data Space (EHDS) may make feasible. Secondary data of the EHDS will be crucial for more effective health workforce planning. Up-to-date and more accurate information is also needed about cross-border collaboration. Evidence and data are crucial for decision-making at all levels.  

Skills are essential but infrastructure development is also needed to make sure that citizens have access to equally high-quality of care not only in urban areas or in capitals but also in rural and remote areas. Around 50% of rural areas do not have broadband Internet connection although access to fast Internet would be the basis of digital tools and developing digitialised services. Without further investment into infrastructure development, the digital divide will but grow and together with the digital divide the digital skills divide will also intensify as well. Member States and regions have several funding opportunities to exploit from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Regional Development Funds and many others.  

In their national Recovery and Resilience plans, all Member States have included developments in the area of health. Some Member States such as Italy, Austria and the Netherlands will specifically target skills development. 

Two EU-funded projects also presented their relevant activities in line with the report’s recommendations. The EUVECA project will set up seven vocational excellence hubs in seven European regions which will collaborate in a European Platform. The vocational excellence hubs will be committed to enabling health professionals to embark on digital transformation and cope with the changes due to the adoption of digitised processes and digital technologies. 

The BeWell project will facilitate the launch of the first skills partnership in the health ecosystem in the framework of the Pact for Skills initiative to build capacities for people working in the sector. Local, regional and national partnerships or individual organisations are encouraged to express their interest and commitment towards skills improvement.  

As a next step, member organisations of the EU HPP Stakeholder Network, under the leadership of the EHMA and Health First Europe, will explore collaboration opportunities with European, national and regional level policy makers, will map other relevant initiatives to join forces and will seek synergies to support the implementation of the numerous recommendations they have included in the report. 

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I have been active in EHMA since the first years of the '90s and I have seen its evolution from a small association of members interested in sharing knowledge on health management practices to the current status of reference and advisory key player for EU, health systems and organisations, stakeholders associations, industry and universities. EHMA is now a unique knowledge hub, policy advisor, community of practice and network of best in class organisations involved in health policy and management. A place where health managers can build their competences, policy-makers and stakeholder associations envision how to implement and sustain change through health management, industry leaders understand how to engage more effectively with health organisations and systems. The right place to nurture and grow health management capabilities and capacity for every stakeholder of health systems.

Prof. Federico Lega, University of Milan, Italy

Health management has a crucial function in shaping public health and health system challenges. The Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria had success in collaborating with EHMA on EU-funded projects that has resourced us to create new health management competencies for the future workforce. In addition to all classical definitions, health management is a science dealing with individuals, groups, and society at large. It is an art contributing to the beauty of our lives and an interactive communication process at all levels of institutions and human energy. I have also had the pleasure to chair the South Eastern European Special Interest Group which gives members a space to discuss and tools to address how health systems are managed in our regions.

Prof. Todorka Kostadinova, Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria

I enjoy the high level of interaction and engagement in EHMA’s activities, in particular during the annual conference where the panel discussions are rich and well prepared. As a hospital manager and professor of health management, EHMA motivates and inspires me to be creative. You go back home feeling energised from seeing old friends and making new connections, as well as being convinced of serving as EHMA’s ambassador. It’s a strong feeling of interdisciplinary engagement, but it also feels like being part of family-like community.

Prof. Sandra C. Buttigieg, University of Malta, Malta

EHMA is a pre-eminent organisation for everyone working in planning, managing and delivering health services across Europe. As a long standing member of EHMA I have always been impressed by the vibrant community of managers, researchers and academics it has created and by the many opportunities for sharing knowledge and funding opportunities it has brought to its members. Its international scope is impressive and its impact is often felt in management and research across European and national health systems.

Prof. Axel Kaehne, Edge Hill University, UK

Health workforce has become more essential in operating, managing and maintaining health systems lately, particularly in crisis and emergency situations. European healthcare professions and the workforce need to be high on the agenda of managers and decision makers. The Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University in Hungary is a longstanding EHMA member, because it connects us with collaborators and experts, with whom we can have complex debates, from whom we can learn and at the end find solutions in various challenging fields of healthcare management.

Dr Eszter Kovács, Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University, Hungary

As a hospital administrator and health management professor, I see on a daily basis that the healthcare challenges require talented and skilled managers to transform it. the EHMA membership has been beneficial to bring healthcare management research and education to the demanding healthcare services world, promoting healthcare management competencies and knowledge creation.

Dr Alexandre Lourenco, APAH - Association of Portuguese Hospital Managers, Portugal

Many healthcare systems in Europe and beyond are facing similar challenges which require innovative and creative solutions. EHMA’s annual conference, webinars, Programme Directors’ group and other activities and resources provide incredible opportunities for networking, connecting and sharing experiences. A distinct feature of EHMA is the diversity of members with representation from many countries, sectors and different communities of practice – academic, policy-makers, practitioners, managers, leaders and students. The annual conference is a highlight in the calendar year, offering a friendly, fun and learningful environment for emerging and established members to engage, collaborate and meet up with old and new friends. I am proud to be a member of the EHMA Board.

Prof. Ann Mahon, University of Manchester, UK

Society evolution, pandemics and ageing modify health needs. So, health policies and services are to change dramatically. EHMA, through webinars, workshops and annual conference provides an excellent insight to a professional changing world, favouring closeness to management innovation and the protagonists of these changes. As a primary care services’ manager, participating in EHMA activities is really worth it and allows to involve oneself in the innovation processes.

Dr Antoni Peris Grao, Consorci Castelldefels Agents de Salut (CASAP), Spain