Published On: January 26, 2024Categories: News, Uncategorized

To mark the 2024 Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Belgian health presidency team and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies worked together to reflect on a selection of key priorities for the next Commission’s agenda with regard to the European Health Union, within a special issue of Eurohealth, the Journal of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. 

The Belgian EU Council presidency is coming at a crucial time: at the end of the current EU Commission’s term of office and coinciding with European elections. This provides an opportunity to reflect on Europe’s health agenda for the next five years (2024 – 2029). The Belgian health presidency commissioned a special issue of Eurohealth, contributing to the discussion on a number of key topics for a Europe that cares, prepares and protects. 

Many countries in the European Union (EU) are experiencing a health workforce crisis, which is straining the performance and resilience of health systems. The EU plays an important role in supporting and complementing the efforts of Member States as they confront the health workforce crisis. 

Belgium has taken the opportunity to champion the cause of the health workforce during its Council Presidency 2024, elevating it on the EU’s political agenda. Belgium leadership is underpinned by past successes in this area. According to the Eurohealth special issue, the last time the health workforce received such attention on the EU level dates back to 2010, during the Belgian presidency, when critical Council Conclusions were adopted. These conclusions gave impetus for joint actions in health workforce planning, culminating in the formation of the EU Action Plan on Health Workforce in 2012.  

To support and complement the efforts of Member States to address the health workforce crisis, the EU should develop a comprehensive health workforce strategy. Health workforce development is one key element that could make up a comprehensive health workforce strategy, while also supporting the adoption of new models of care. One of the key areas of action towards this direction is reskilling. Reskilling involves adapting vocational and academic curricula, creating new roles and professions, and improving lifelong learning systems to enhance the skills of health workers. Re-skilling initiatives can support the implementation of new care models and bridge skill gaps, including digital skills, and green skills. Very important for primary care and care integration, also with links to social care, are teamwork skills including the communication and coordination competencies.

BeWell project, is shaping the health and care workforce of tomorrow, developing a Digital and Green Skills Strategy, implementing a pilot training program on digital and green skills in the healthcare sector and for emerging occupational profiles, and coordinating the Pact for Skills Large-scale Partnership (LSP) for the Health Ecosystem