EFN provides nurses’ input to the EU High-Level Roundtable on digital skills for the health workforce

EFN provides nurses’ input to the EU High-Level Roundtable on digital skills for the health workforce

Posted on February 16, 2021

Organised together by Commissioner Nicolas Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights), Commissioner Thierry Breton (Internal Market) and Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (Health and Food Safety), the EFN President, Elizabeth Adams, was invited to provide the nurses’ views on the challenges that nurses face today in terms of up-skilling and re-skilling in digital health, in the context of the Pact for Skills initiative, launched in November 2020, which promotes joint action to maximise the impact of investing in improving existing skills (upskilling) and training in new skills (reskilling).

The health sector has been identified as an important industrial ecosystem to partner up with, under the Pact for Skills, due to the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on health systems and, the strong engagement of health stakeholders and industrial players, as well as the great potential of digital technologies for the sector. As such, the Pact calls on industry, employers, social partners, public authorities, education and training providers, employment agencies, etc. to work together and commit to invest in training for all working age people across the Union.

Building of capacity and investments in digital skills and digital literacy for citizens, patients and healthcare professionals are key for the digital transformation of healthcare, and nurses have a central role to play in this. General care nurses need digital skills to plan, organise and implement nursing care, to empower individuals, families and groups, to give advice, instruct and support those needing care, evaluate nursing care and analyse the care quality and comprehensively communicate professionally!

EFN President made it clear that it is key to build the Pact for Skill initiative taking into account the Directive on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (2013/55/EU), and in particular the implementation in all EU Member States of article 31, and in particular the reference on “nurses need digital skills” to plan, organise and implement nursing care. For this, we need the Industry to support the sector in the automatization of all nursing files, especially the Electronic Health Records (EHR). Artificial intelligence is also crucial in this development with TRUST as key element for deployment. Collecting robust data is essential for AI. And the collection of bedside data needs to free up time of the nurse! Finally, nurses need to use their digital skills to comprehensively communicate professionally with citizens/patients and our fellow doctors, pharmacists and so many other healthcare professionals in the process of care. These digital skills will bring the nurses back to the frontline care and increase as such the direct patient Care.

The EU need to invest in nurses, in nursing and in digital skills of frontline nurses to get better outcomes. We need the industry to build that relation with EFN to cover 36 national nurses’ associations and as such reach out to 3 million nurses in the EU and 6 million nurses in the WHO EURO region. We need to build the resilience of the nursing workforce! Frontline nurses are key to build resilient healthcare systems in the EU.