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The EU Health Policy Platform Stakeholder Network on ‘Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workforce of the FutureReport was launched on 22 September 2022 in the European Parliament. The report tackles the question of what essential skills the European health workforce needs to cope with 21st century challenges such as demographic change, the increasing number of chronic and non-communicable diseases or the digital and green transitions.

The European Parliament’s Interest Group on Innovation in Health and Social Care gave a platform to the EU HPP Stakeholder Network to present its new report on essential skills for the European health workforce. The event was hosted by MEP Istvan Ujhelyi and was honoured to welcome representatives of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions for a panel discussion.

The European Institutional speakers highlighted the importance of data collection at the Member State and regional levels and quicker data availability, which probably the European Health Data Space (EHDS) could 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.

Besides the institutional speakers, 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 EHMA and HFE 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.