Training for health professionals

The EU has developed some training programmes for health professionals with the specific aim of improving health services for migrants and ethnic minorities. These programmes have been developed in collaboration by institutions in Spain, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands and have been tested in these countries as well as in Poland, Romania and Slovakia. They include specific modules for the Roma people, as the most important ethnic minority in the EU.

The final package of training should be available by January 2016 and for more information, click here on the ec.Europa.eu website

Movement of health professionals around the EU

This article ‘Health professional mobility in the European Union: Exploring the equity and efficiency of free movement’ looks at the effects of health professional mobility in terms of efficiency and equity implications at three levels: for the EU, for destination countries and for source countries. The analysis suggests that there is a risk the free health workforce mobility disproportionally benefits wealthier member states at the expense of less advantaged ones. It can also lead to a redistribution of resources from poorer to wealthier EU countries.

To download this article by Irene Glinos, click here on www.healthpolicyjrnl.com

Competition among health providers

Following a public consultation, the independent Expert Panel, which gives non-binding advice to the European Commission on matters related to effective ways of investing in health, has adopted a final opinion on “Competition among health care providers – Investigating policy options in the European Union”. The Expert Panel addressed the role of competition among health care providers within Member States as an instrument to improve efficiency in the use of health system resources. It explored the policy options and practical considerations for integrating such competition into health systems.

The opinion concludes that competition can potentially be a useful instrument, but that its value varies across countries, health care subsectors and time scales. Introducing, increasing or changing competition in health services would be a delicate policy exercise. There needs to be an appropriate regulatory framework, and relevant bodies and mechanisms put in place to oversee it. The accreditation of providers and carefully designed payment systems are of specific importance. Sound policy evaluation studies are needed to assess and judge the impact of competition, as   policy design and policy outcomes are likely to vary depending on the context.

To read the full opinion, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Recruitment and Retention of the Health Workforce

The European Commission has commissioned a study to identify and analyse effective strategies for recruiting and retaining health professionals to serve as inspiration for the development of organisational strategies and human resources policies in Europe. Many EU countries report difficulties both in retaining and recruiting health staff, although reasons vary as to why. For some countries, it is due to unattractive jobs, poor management or few opportunities for promotion. In others the economic crisis has increased the outflow of health professionals – the so-called “brain drain”.

These problems concern us all as everybody is a patient at some point in their lives and patients deserve access to high quality care from a well-qualified workforce. The study recognises recruitment and retention of health workers as an immediate and urgent problem which needs to be addressed by policy-makers, healthcare managers and healthcare workers. While no “one size fits all” solutions can be found, the study identifies a number of success factors which are particularly relevant for specific types of recruitment and retention interventions and which could help governments and health organisations to attract and retain healthcare staff. These include education opportunities, financial incentives and professional and personal support.

To read the full study, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Opting out of the Working Time Directive

The European Working Time Directive lays down minimum safety and health requirements for the organisation of working time in the EU by, for example, establishing that all workers have the right to a limit to weekly working time of 48 hours. However, it also contains the possibility for Member States to allow for the opting out of that maximum as long as the individual workers agree.

This report looks at how the Member States make use of the possibility of opting out, the extent of its use and its main impacts. Although national data about its use are scarce, the opt-out and long working hours continue to be the subject of heated debates involving governments and social partners across the EU. According to the research currently available, there are strong reasons to think that the limitation of working time is beneficial for everyone, including workers, employers, patients and clients.

To download the report, click here on www.eurofound.europa.eu

Strategies for recruiting health staff

The European Commission has commissioned a study: Recruitment and Retention of the Health Workforce which aims to identify and analyse effective strategies for recruiting and retaining health professionals. The study recognises recruitment and retention of health workers as an immediate and urgent problem which needs to be addressed by policy-makers, healthcare managers and healthcare workers.

It identifies a number of success factors which are particularly relevant for specific types of recruitment and retention interventions and which could help governments and health organisations to attract and retain healthcare staff. These include education opportunities, financial incentives and professional and personal support.

To read the study, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Mental Ill-health at work

30% to 40% of all sickness and disability case-loads in OECD countries are related to mental health problems, according to this new OECD report. “Fit Mind, Fit Job: From Evidence to Practice in Mental Health and Work” has estimated that the total cost of mental illness in Europe is around 3.5% of GDP, and argues that health and employment services should intervene earlier to help people with mental health issues.

For more information, click here on www.oecd.org

European work-place practices

This 2013 European Company Survey by Eurofound: Workplace practices: patterns, performance and well-being, surveyed managers in over 24,000 organisations and in nearly 7,000 of these, employee representatives were also interviewed.

It found that establishments that use joint employee-management decision-making on daily tasks, have a moderately structured internal organisation, make a limited investment in human resource management but have extensive practices for direct participation, score best both in terms of establishment performance and workplace well-being.

To read the full report, click here  on www.eurofound.europa.eu

Pay for performance – does it work for health?

Pay for performance (P4P) is increasingly used to improve efficiency and service quality in health systems but evidence is limited that it increases value for money, boosts quality of processes in health care, or improves health outcomes.

This book uses 12 case studies from P4P programmes in OECD countries to explore the many questions surrounding the design and implementation of P4P programs and examines the supporting systems and process, in addition to incentives, that are necessary to drive and sustain performance improvement.

To download this study from the European Observatory, click here on http://pr4.netatlantic.com

Continual professional development and lifelong learning for health personnel

This study has mapped and reviewed the continuous professional development and lifelong learning of doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives and pharmacists in the 28 member countries of the EU and EFTA countries.

It describes the policy background to the topic, reviews available literature and illustrates the outcomes of a Europe – wide survey and expert workshop, as well as presenting an overview of EU and European -level initiatives on CPD.

The study identifies policy recommendations to strengthen the exchange of cooperation and best practices at European level and highlights the need to make efforts allowing all health professionals to undertake CPD, including addressing the main barriers identified, these being a lack of time and resources.

The recommendations also call for more research into CPD and its relation to patient safety and quality of care.

To read the executive summary click here on http://ec.europa.eu

To read the full 448 page report, click here on http://ec.europa.eu