Navigation path

Sectoral social dialogue - Hospitals and healthcare

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations
European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) European Hospital and Healthcare Employers Association (HOSPEEM)

Social dialogue in this sector covers hospitals and human health activities defined by NACE (Rev.2) codes 86.

More than 23 million people are employed in the human health and social work sector, (European Semester Thematic Fiche Health and Health Systems, European Commission 2015), of which more than 13 million in hospitals.

Challenges to the sector include:

  • recruiting (including cross-border recruiting) and retaining workers
  • the ageing workforce
  • health and safety at the workplace, including preventing, managing and reducing musculoskeletal disorders
  • psycho-social risks at the workplace
  • needlestick injuries
  • the increased use of digital technology
  • the development of new care patterns
  • the skills mismatch and regular upgrading and upskilling requirements
  • patients’ increasing demands and expectations for high-quality health care services

Overall, the health of the EU population has never been better. Infant mortality has fallen sharply in recent years and life expectancy at birth has increased.

But the EU’s population is ageing: by 2020, there will be 40 % more people aged 75 and above compared to 1990, and around 25 % of people will be over 65. The ageing population will require more and better health services.

The development of medical technologies will also have an increasing impact on health services in the future.

EU countries have implemented a wide range of structural reforms and cost-containment measures to make their health systems more efficient and effective. However, in some EU countries people still face difficulties accessing health services, and health inequalities persist.

Key areas

The social partners are currently focusing on:

  • Occupational health and safety
  • Recruitment and retention of health care workforce
  • Continuing professional development and life-long learning for all health care staff
  • Strengthening the capacity of hospital and health care social dialogue structures across all EU countries
  • Promoting an exchange of knowledge and experience among the social partners’ organisations and their representatives,
  • Influencing policies at EU level by monitoring and getting involved in EU consultation and legislative processes.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.


  • 2016 - Joint declaration on Continuing Professional Development and Life-Long-Learning for all health workers in the EU
  • 2015 - Joint follow-up report on the use and implementation of the HOSPEEM-EPSU Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention
  • 2014 - Joint statement on the new EU occupational safety and health policy framework
  • 2013 - Guidelines and examples of good practice to address the challenges of an ageing workforce
  • 2012 - Joint statement on the Action Plan for the Health Workforce in Europe
  • 2012 - Joint report on the use and implementation of the Code of Conduct on Ethical Cross-Border Recruitment and Retention in the Hospital Sector
  • 2011 - Joint statement and contribution to the EU green paper on reviewing the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications
  • 2010 - Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention
  • 2010 - Multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle third-party violence and harassment related to work
  • 2009 - Framework agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and health care sector
  • Code of conduct on ethical cross-border recruitment and retention in the European hospital sector (2008).