Home EFN Update – April-May-June 2023

EFN Update – April-May-June 2023

by efn efn

President’s Message

Dear EFN Members and Colleagues,

Welcome to the spring edition of the EFN Update.

The devastating humanitarian crisis caused by the earthquake across Turkey and Syria is yet another unanticipated disaster causing unimaginable suffering and devastation for individuals, communities and already fragile health system. At the forefront of the humanitarian response, the Turkish Nurses Association expressed their appreciation for the solidarity and support from EFN and expressed the urgent need for financial, and material support to allow them to maximise their ability, as nurses, to provide the basic health care needs of earthquake victims.

The EFN continues to support colleagues in Ukraine and neighbouring countries through a number of initiatives including the European Commission and the Coalition on “Supporting Ukraine, neighbouring EU Member States and Moldova”, of which the EFN is one of the co-chairs. The next meeting of this Coalition will take place on 3 April 2023, from 15:30-17:00 CEST. It is with appreciation to Mr John Ryan, Acting Deputy Director General at DG SANTE, that the focus of the meeting will be on the new EU funding opportunities for special projects relating to the impact of the war in Ukraine across healthcare including healthcare professionals and patients with chronic diseases and mental health issues.

The Polish Nurses Association innovative work to deliver bridging courses for the Ukraine nurses’ refugees is supported by EFN. This provides the recognition and equal level of qualification for Ukrainian nurses and facilitates the professional assimilation of Ukrainian nurses who temporarily or permanently settle in Poland or other EU Member States.

In addition, EFN is committed to the ongoing developments at EU level in relation to violence against women, with a new directive being discussed at the European Parliament and the European Commission levels. Nurses on the frontline caring and delivering services in complex and challenging environments are far too often exposed to verbal, emotional or physical (including sexual) violence at their workplace. The number of nurses experiencing this totally unacceptable verbal and physical abuse is alarming and appalling and a zero-tolerance approach underpinned by appropriate resources and legal frameworks are essential to protect our most valuable resource, our nurses.

With the extraordinary complex health challenges across the EU makes it imperative to develop innovative and accessible European tools and mechanisms to analyse, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the solutions across the health and social care ecosystem. With nurses leaving the profession in numbers never seen before, it is extremely urgent to attract and retain nurses to the profession. The EFN really hopes that the ongoing (Sweden) and upcoming (Spain and Belgium) EU Presidencies, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament, will broaden the dialogue on this urgent need and make things happen, for the safety of the patients, as not reacting will put patients’ safety at risk. 

Finally, it is with great pleasure that we will be meeting with all the EFN members in Croatia, on 13 and 14 April 2023, for the EFN spring General Assembly, kindly hosted by the Croatian Nurses Association, where key nursing issues will be discussed and actioned.

Elizabeth Adams
EFN President


News from EFN

The EFN at the National Slovenian TV
On 25 January 2023, the EFN Secretary General was invited at the National Slovenian TV to shed the light on the EU nursing workforce challenges. He focussed, in particular, on 3 key points: the shortage of frontline nurses; the disruptions in the healthcare in Europe; the suggested possible EU solutions. This intervention represented a wake-up call for EU politicians. Click here to watch the video!

EFN lands on Spotify
The EFN is now also present on Spotify where you can find podcasts aiming to make the audience aware of the EFN work at EU level namely on “EU projects” the EFN is participating on. To launch this section, the EFN started with a podcast on the just ended 4-year project Smart4Health. You can follow it here. Another section refers to the “Nurses’ Voice”, giving a direct voice to frontline nurses. This section first podcast gives the voice to a Belgium nurse, who provides her experience on the healthcare ecosystem post COVID-19. You can follow it here. You can also see these podcasts on EFN Website “EFN Podcasts & Videos” section.

New EFN Articles
Over the last few weeks, the EFN has published some interesting articles that provide an overview on some ongoing developments. The article “The EU pipeline legislation and exploitation of health data and AI – Nurses are game changers for exploitation!” published in the Health Europa magazine (March 2023), outlines why it is integral for nurses to help shape the integration of digital solutions across healthcare in the context of the European Health Data Space. Published on Ecronicon – EC Nursing and Healthcare journal (March 2023), the article Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives, support workers and students lack confidence in vaccine advocacy: Policy messages from a pan-European analysisreports on the survey undertaken next to health professional in 34 European countries, as part of the IMMUNION EU project the EFN is part of. It shows that here is a clear need for additional training on several aspects of vaccination for healthcare professionals in Europe. Finally, the article “Advanced practice nursing in long-term care”, published in Open Access Government (February 2023), provides insight into the EU’s advanced practice nursing in long-term care, and shows that nurses’ education/training and working conditions, as a recruitment and retention strategy, must be improved by ensuring the sustainable financing of LTC with advanced practice nursing roles. See more here.

EFN at the LIBE-FEMM Committee meeting
On 12 January 2023, the EFN participated in the European Parliament joint LIBE-FEMM Committee meeting where the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on combating violence against women and domestic violence was analysed and discussed. According to this Directive, new measures have been introduced for strengthening the protection of women who are victims of violence and minors. Violence against women has increased, especially during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant incidence of violence against women takes place in the workplace. It represents a great issue for nurses who are mainly women. Nurses are at the frontline of addressing many forms of violence, due to the role they play in keeping patients and communities safe. Violence and harassment against nurses are not new and is totally unacceptable, as it has an enormous negative impact on nurses’ psychological and physical well-being and on their job motivation, with nurses’ leaving the profession, and puts the quality of care and patients’ safety at risk. In this development, of which the Swedish Council Presidency has made it one of its priorities, the EFN Position Statement on Violence and Harassment Against Nurses is key, aiming at shedding lights on all the risks to which nurses are exposed in their frontline job to protect and save lives.

EU eHealth Stakeholder Group
The EFN has been a key member for many years of the EU eHealth Stakeholder Group composed by organisations and associations with a European outreach which represents health tech industry, patients, healthcare professionals and the research community. The group provides advice and expertise to the European Commission, particularly on topics set out in the Communication on enabling the digital transformation of health and care. At its sixth plenary meeting, held in January 2023, the eHealth Stakeholder Group presented the European Health Data Space (EHDS) state of play and 7 recommendations elaborated on the European Health Data Space Regulation, signed off by EFN and other European Stakeholders. In a constantly changing world, these are the new skills required to stay up-to-date and competitive on the changing job market.

In the context of the EHDS, the European Commission published the final report of a study on “an infrastructure and data ecosystem supporting the impact assessment of the European Health Data Space” that focuses on two EHDS priorities: Ensure access to health data and Facilitate the reuse of health data for research and innovation. The results show that the infrastructure for cross-border exchange of health data for primary uses (MyHealth@EU) could be extended with additional patient-centric services. In the area of secondary uses of health data, a new cross-border infrastructure would enable multi-country re-use of health data for research, innovation, policy-making or regulatory activities, among others. On the European Strategy for data, the EU Commission aims to deliver concrete results in order to provide more accessible and safer healthcare and to introduce innovation in the healthcare system. Nurses as end-users are key in these developments.

BeWell – 2 fruitful days for the project partners!
The EFN is a key partner in BeWell, the Erasmus+ 4-year EU project on digital and green skills. In order to advance the developments for supporting nurses and the nursing profession, the EFN participated in the 2-days meeting of WP5 – Design of core curricula and training programmes, held in Brussels, on 30 & 31 January 2023. The meeting focussed on the development of delivering methodologies for curricula and education & training programmes on urgent needs of the healthcare sector.Important steps ahead have been done, looking forward to going on!

Smart4Health EU Project – Key final results
Aiming to promote personalised health solutions through the universal exchange of Electronic Health Records to allow citizens and healthcare providers to collaborate in an integrated and digital way with citizens, healthcare professionals and researchers, this 4-year EU project – Smart4Health – has now come to an end. As a key partner in the project, the EFN made sure that the nurses’ views were integrated in the project developments that would be fit-for-purpose for the end-user. The development of the Smart4Health platform is from the technological perspective the key product of the project. Pedro Ramos, Regional Secretary of Health of Madeira, said “We believe in digital, we believe in care!”. The EFN believes that digital innovation can really make a difference for the frontline nurses.

European Pillar of Social Rights – What’s next!
The EFN participated in “The European Union and the Pillar of Social Rights” Workshop  which was part of the “Just EU and Me” project, a transnational capacity-building programme, funded by The European Union’s Citizens, Equality, Rights, and Values (CERV) Programme (2021-2027). The main focus of this workshop was the European Pillar of Social Rights Actions Plan which aims to put in place concrete actions for reaching the EU ambitious goals by 2030. The 3 key priority areas identified – More and better jobs; Skills and equality; Social protection and inclusion – are essential for nurses and for the entire healthcare ecosystem. In a rapidly changing world, new skills and competences are needed, in particular in the healthcare sector in which nurses represent the majority of the workforce. Upskilling and reskilling nurses means create a more resilient healthcare system able of facing future crisis.

Launch of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Global
The Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) has officially launched its global scheme which aims to develop one million nursing and midwifery leaders over the next five years. Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock, President Florence Nightingale Foundation, hosted the launch of Florence Nightingale Foundation Global at the Palace of Westminster, House of Lords London on the 7 March 2023.  Professor Greta Westwood, Chief Executive of the FNF, explained that over the last 18 months the charity had been engaging with senior nurses and midwives across the world “to test the suitability and value” of the current programmes. The charity for the first time is offering its scholarships and leadership development programmes to nurses and midwives who work outside of the UK. For further information, see here.


News from the EU

Youth Policy Dialogue “Towards a comprehensive approach to Mental Health” with Commissioner Stella Kyriakides
To mark the 2022 European Year of Youth, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides met young European citizens on 22 February 2023 to exchange on young experiences, and provide suggestions and insights into the ways the EU can truly move towards a new approach to mental health that truly delivers for all EU citizens. The European Nursing Student Association (ENSA) represented the student nurses in this event and took this opportunity to underline how much the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the mental health of young people and in particular the student nurses. ENSA also shed the light on the lack of full financial support for the acute nursing and for the acute help in general for mental illnesses to care for young people, and invited the European Commission to put pressure on national governments to financially support frontline nurses. Commissioner Stella Kyriakides highlighted the importance of the nurses in the frontline during COVID-19 and that governments need to support frontline nurses. Due to burnout there is shortage of nurses as they choose to leave the nursing profession. As the Commissioner stated: “Unless the Members States invest in nurses, we will not be able to have the health systems we want.” Mental Health continues to be a great issue for the wellbeing of nurses and of all the healthcare professionals who everyday risk their life to save others. It is essential to not underestimate it and to take care of the mental health of those who take care of the others.

The European Parliament sets up a public health subcommittee
The three biggest parties – Christian democrats (EPP), socialists (S&D) and liberals (Renew Europe) – struck an agreement on the setting up of a new permanent sub-committee on public health in the European Parliament. Public health is one of the many competencies of the Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI), responsible for environmental policy, public health and chemicals legislation, and food safety issues, including veterinary legislation. Since the middle of the current legislative mandate, political groups started voicing the opinion that the scope was too much for one committee, considering the increased focus on the importance of health and health systems following the COVID-19 pandemic, building on the special committee on health overseeing lessons learned from the pandemic (COVI). However, they do not have direct legislative power. The chair of the ENVI Committee, the French liberal Pascal Canfin, said that “this committee will help step up the work on public health issues following the COVID-19 crisis and the lessons we have learnt since then.” This new Public Health subcommittee (SANT)will have 30 members that will deal with programmes and specific actions in the field of public health, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, health aspects of bioterrorism, the European Medicines Agency, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control under the umbrella of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Committee on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
By the end of 2023, the European Union is committed to adopt harmonized rules on artificial intelligence to be applied in all the 27 EU Member States. The AI Act will have 2 key objectives: Protect against potential risks; and Create a clear regulatory framework for innovative and trusted AI applications. The revised “Zero Draft” [Framework] Convention on Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law is available here.

The Swedish EU Council Presidency Priorities
Sweden took over Czech Republic EU Presidency on 1st January 2023 for six months. Security, competitiveness, green and energy transitions, democratic values and the rule of law are the key priorities for the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In terms of health, Sweden will continue working on the strategy for health and social care and highlight issues concerning independent living for older people and an ageing population. Next to this, it intends to build on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and address issues in the area of health that are due to be negotiated, such as the proposal concerning a Regulation for a European Health Data Space, and the proposal concerning a Regulation on standards of quality and safety for substances of human origin intended for human application. Antimicrobial Resistance, particularly antibiotic resistance, is also one of the priorities of the Swedish EU Presidency. The Swedish presidency also prioritised the implementation of the ‘Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in External Action 2021–2025‘ and is planning to strengthen the EU’s leadership role in global health through the new ‘EU Global Health Strategy‘. Finally, Sweden has the support to Ukraine at the top of its agenda for the EU. The Swedish Presidency will be followed by a new trio – Spain, Belgium and Hungary, which will develop a new joint programme for the period from 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2024.

Eurofound promotes better working conditions and sustainable work!
Working conditions and sustainable work is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme 2021-2024. As such Eurofound aims to continue to operate as a centre of expertise for monitoring and analysing developments in this area, including the impact of COVID-19 crisis on working conditions, job quality, and workplace practices, and foresees to provide new important insights related to working conditions and sustainable work in the EU. The analysis to be undertaken will cover different countries, sectors, occupations and groups of workers on issues as work organisation, working time, work–life balance,  workplace health and well-being, skills and training. This represents an important aspect for the nursing profession which is one of the most exposed to critical working conditions due to low wages and nurses’ shortage. Protect nurses means protect the entire healthcare ecosystem!


Publications

Skills shortages and structural changes in the labour market
Published by the European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and the European Centre of Expertise, this report aims to identify skills shortages that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how digitalisation and the green transition further affect such shortages. It reviews the most recent data and expert knowledge on skills shortages, their drivers, and relevant policy responses across the EU Member States. The report also discusses the emerging situation on digital skills.

Investing in Health System Resilience
OECD published a new report on Health System Resilience across OECD countries, entitled “Ready for the next crisis? Investing in Health System Resilience”, that reviews the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights major vulnerabilities of the healthcare systems, making recommendations to the countries for investing in: Public health; Workforce recruitment & retention; Better data collection & use; Improved international co-operation; Greater supply chain resilience; Improved trust, and to ensure the global community is ready for the next crisis.

Global Labour markets and Labour Trends
ILO published a new edition of its “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023“, that looks at the impact of economic slowdown on the global labour market. The report focuses on the consequences of the labour market disruption caused by overlapping economic and geopolitical crises and analyses global patterns, regional differences and outcomes across groups of workers. Moreover, it analyses the impacts of the different crisis on productivity, job quality and job opportunities, and how it risks undermining social justice around the world.

Strengthening the collection, analysis and use of health workforce data and information
The World Health Organization (WHO) published a handbook entitled “Strengthening the collection, analysis and use of health workforce data and information” which aims to provide contemporary insight into data sources and information needs to address key policy questions around health workforce development. Moreover, it presents case studies on improving the availability and use of health workforce data to inform decision making and planning by countries.

Nursing Informatics Day
The nursing informatics working group under European Medical Informatics Medical Informatics Europe, are proud to invite you to a special nursing informatics day during the annual European conference (22-25 May). The Nursing Informatics Day will take place on 24 May,in Gothenburg, Sweden. The purpose of this conference is to bring European nurses, researchers and clinical nurses together to share knowledge, gain more knowledge and become interested in what nursing informatics is – is used for and, not least – what nursing informatics cannot be used for.

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