Europe Day 2020 – Creating solidarity through a fair and united Europe!

Europe Day 2020 – Creating solidarity through a fair and united Europe!

Posted on May 8, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 disease outbreak has demonstrated to all the citizens of the EU the added value of the nursing workforce to the European healthcare ecosystems – working at the frontline of care, 24/7, at the bedside with the patient, and often being the last human touch those who pass away This crisis has shown us all that nurses’ competencies are needed more than ever on all fronts; from vaccine production to the epidemiological, economic, social and organisational dimensions of living with and responding to infectious diseases of high consequences (IDHC), like COVID-19.

In parallel to the importance of nurses within society (citizens applauding), citizens often perceive the EU Institutions as a bureaucratic structure somewhat far from reality and citizens’ needs, namely because the world we are living in is fast-paced and changing daily. Politicians and policymakers often seem to miss-grasp the frontline reality, advocating for policies that are not fit-for-purpose or that do not come in timely. A sad example are the masks and PPEs that after 8 weeks of lockdown are not yet available frontline, meaning that nurses move into a care situation without having any protection equipment, risking their own life!

However, the EFN often liaises with the European Commission and other EU Stakeholders to co-design policies that are fit-for-purpose. For example, on Friday 8 May, the EFN participated in a webinar organised by the European Commission to examine the impact of COVID-19 on society. This webinar was chaired by the Director of public health, country knowledge and crisis management, John F. Ryan, with the European Commissioner of Health Stella Kyriakides joining the discussions on COVID-19. The EFN voiced the concerns of the EU nurses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

During 9 May 2020, Europe’s Day, the EFN would like to remind the EU Institutions and health stakeholders that the nursing workforce is in the privileged position to serve as a bridge between EU citizens and policy-makers, ensuring that new EU policies and laws address frontline needs and fulfil expectations. For that mission to succeed, the many challenges the nursing workforce is currently facing now, should be addressed immediately. The most urgent topics are the composition of the health and nursing workforce and making sure there are safe staffing levels. To assist The European Union and National Governments with these, the EFN, though its membership, has compiled an EFN Workforce Matrix 3+1, which needs to be grounded in EU legislation to protect us from future disasters. This Matrix is based on EU realities and the available research evidence collected. Within this workforce discussion, the Article 31 of the Directive 2013/55/EU and the EFN Competency Framework, describing the competencies required for nurses responsible for general care, stay the foundation of our legal protection and liability.

COVID-19 has shown that we urgently need to put emphasis on the European Social Pillar, with specific reference to the wages of the nurses, the education of the nurses, to make sure nurses stay in the profession and can contribute to reaching better health outcomes, especially in long-term care, community care. Health has been ignored as the subsidiarity principle keeps on pushing out, but crisis situations in the EU show the important of EU health with the European Social Pillar emphasising the accessibility and coordination!

The EFN and its members continue their utmost endeavours and commitment to ensure that the European project is a success for the European nurses, patients and citizens.