Press releases

The key role of HCPs for a healthier Europe
Combining the protection of patients' rights with skills shortage,
medical desertification and job strain
20 March 2024 | European Parliament, Brussels


New EU Institutions are called to tackle the health workforce crisis, the main pre-condition for a greater protection of patients' rights across Europe.

We call on European policy-makers to address the health workforce crisis by implementing solutions that prioritize the well-being of health workers, probably the main precondition for better protection of patients' rights across Europe. This message, also framed in a pre-electoral context, emerged during the celebration of the XVIII European Patients’ Rights Day, which was, as always, organized at the EU Parliament in Brussels by Active Citizenship Network, the EU branch of the Italian NGO Cittadinanzattiva.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing issues such as workforce and skills shortages, medical desertification, and job strain, as highlighted by the first civic survey on health personnel presented on this occasion. This survey was conducted in Italy by Cittadinanzattiva in collaboration with the FNOPI, FNO TSRM, and PSTRP Federations. The study offers insights into the professional conditions of 10,000 workers representing 20 different health professions.

“The upcoming European elections offer the opportunity to ask the candidates, if elected, for a series of commitments on these issues, but it also imposes us to point out that the health of European citizens is, so far, completely out of the pre-election debate”, said Mariano Votta, Director of Active Citizenship Network. “The outgoing European Parliament was the one that cared most about the health of European citizens. It did so out of necessity, because of the pandemic; we wish the next European Parliament would do the same not out of necessity but out of choice. We firmly believe that the health conditions of European citizens, as well as the working conditions of the health care professionals – yesterday heroes, today totally forgotten- deserve proper attention from those who will be called upon to take decisions representing European citizens”.

Neglecting the health workforce crisis jeopardizes current and future preventive and care options for citizens. Doctors, nurses and all the health workforce are essential within healthcare systems, ensuring the well-being of citizens and fostering trust in the system. Their support is paramount, for this reason, Active Citizenship advanced the proposal to establish of a Public Health Committee within the new European Parliament, and announced its commitment to re-establishing the MEPs Interest Group "European Patients' Rights & Cross-border Healthcare", for what would be its third mandate, a unicum of its kind.

The annual celebration of the European Patients' Rights Day at the EU Parliament (anticipated on March 20th instead of the official date of April 18th due to the European elections) brought together European Institutions, health workers' representatives, leaders of civil society and PAGs, consortium of EU-funded projects addressing the health workforce crisis, journalist, representatives of the Academies of Medicine and of the private sector, independent expert as Vytenis Andriukaitis, former European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

The event was kindly hosted by the Italian MEP Brando Benifei (S&D) and organised with the MEPs Interest Group "European Patients' Rights & Cross-Border Healthcare".

The XVIII European Patients’ Rights Day was made possible by the unconditional support of Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim, Viatris, and received the attention of three media partners: Health Europa, TrendSanità-Policy and Procurement in HealthCare, and the peer-reviewed journal “Archives of Medical Research and Health Sciences”.

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