Unprecedented staff shortages of health and care workers in the EU

Honourable Heads of States,

We undersigned Greens/EFA members of the European Parliament, call on the European Council to take coordinated actions to tackle healthcare staff shortages in the Union without further delay.

On the 9th of December 2022, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met to discuss how to respond to the unprecedented healthcare staff shortages in the EU. Nevertheless, four months later we are concerned about the lack of progress to support health and care workers on the ground.

Access to care is no longer a given in Europe and the lack of political will to quickly respond to this situation is putting citizens health at risk. We strongly believe that this issue is a common concern among Member States and represents a joint responsibility requiring immediate coordinated response at the EU level.

In January, the OECD published an appalling report on the lack of resilience of our healthcare systems. This report directly points to the fact that health and care staff shortages constrained effective responses to the pandemic and continues to do so”. The European Union is currently short of 2 million healthcare workers, particularly nurses and doctors,and the situation will worsen unless adequate and immediate measures are taken.

The structural underinvestment in public healthcare, austerity measures and privatisation of healthcare systems have considerably deteriorated health and care staff working conditions over the years and led to medicine and care no longer being attractive career choices in Europe. For the current staff, violent situations in the workplace, an increasing number of burn outs and chronic staff shortages resulted in unbearable workload and unacceptable work-life balance of healthcare workers. Under these conditions, the efforts provided by healthcare workers during the pandemic were and continue to be prodigious. However, despite the best efforts of the health and care staff, our healthcare systems are on the verge of collapsing and in need of immediate action.

We believe that building back better public healthcare systems, starting with solving the shortages of staff throughout the Union, should be a top priority on the highest EU political agenda. We, therefore, call on the European heads of governments to take the following actions without further delay:

Reinforce social dialogue and promote collective bargaining as provided for in Directive (EU) 2022/2041, in particular with a view to improving wage-setting and working conditions for healthcare staff;

Close the underinvestment gap in public healthcare systems, making full use of all available EU funds, such as EU4Health, Digital Europe Programme, Horizon Europe, the RRF, Cohesion Funds and Regional Development Funds;

Ensure rural and deprived areas benefit from specific attention when investing EU funds in order to improve access to care for all;

Take stronger action, including by leveraging the use of digital services, to support work-life balance measures for health and care staff in the EU;

Define coordinated retention policies for health and care professionals in the EU, also in view of avoiding intra-EU competition;

Call for and support the proposal of a Directive on psychosocial risk at work by the European Commission to better integrate the health impacts of work for health and care workers and improve prevention throughout Europe;

Improve access to employment opportunities in the healthcare workforce for Migrants, Refugees and Asylum-Applicants residing in the EU via faster recognition of their degrees in health and care and facilitated access to education and language training;

Report to national parliaments and the European Parliament on coordinated actions and investments made in the EU to tackle healthcare staff shortages to closely monitor the improvements for access to care in the EU;

Sincerely yours,


Tilly Metz, Greens/EFA, LU

Philippe Lamberts, Greens/EFA, BE

Nicolae Stefanuta, Greens/EFA, RO

Saskia Bricmont, Greens/EFA, BE

Jutta Paulus, Greens/EFA, GE

David Cormand, Greens/EFA, FR

Kim Van Sparrentak, Greens/EFA, NE

Damien Carême, Greens/EFA, FR

Katrin Langensiepen, Greens/EFA, GE

Ernest Urtasun, Greens/EFA, SP

Yannick Jadot, Greens/EFA, FR

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Greens/EFA, FR

Ignazio Corrao, Greens/EFA, IT

Michèle Rivasi, Greens/EFA, FR

Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Greens/EFA, GE

Thomas Waitz, Greens/EFA, AU

Malte Gallee, Greens/EFA, GE

Marie Toussaint, Greens/EFA, FR

Sarah Wiener, Greens/EFA, AU

Caroline Roose, Greens/EFA, FR

Benoît Biteau, Greens/EFA, FR

Monika Vana, Greens/EFA, AU

Claude Gruffat, Greens/EFA, FR

Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Greens/EFA, GE

Martin Haüsling, Greens/EFA, GE

Karima Delli, Greens/EFA, FR

Rosa D’Amato, Greens/EFA, IT

Mounir Satouri, Greens/EFA, FR

Ana Miranda, Greens/EFA, SP

François Alfonsi, Greens/EFA, FR

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