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Matteo Vezzosi
International Nurses' Day - Building a Resilient EU Nursing Workforce

European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN), Press Release, 12 May 2021

IND 2021 - Building a Resilient EU Nursing Workforce


The International Nurses' Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the birth of Florence Nightingale. This annual event provides an opportunity to mark the contribution of nurses and reflect on their vital expertise to deliver excellence in healthcare on a daily basis. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the essential and invaluable leadership role nurses are central to in running the healthcare systems in the EU, at the frontline of care for patients, doing their utmost to provide high quality and safe care.

Nurses through their relentless commitment, expertise, professionalism, bravery, and heroic actions have saved countless numbers of lives while caring and comforting so many through their suffering and onto a path of recovery whilst also providing compassionate end of life care. But what about their own health and well-being?

The pandemic continues to take a significant toll on the physical and mental well-being of frontline nurses. Unfortunately, adequate reporting mechanisms to ensure data availability for health workforce monitoring during this crisis are not in place. The ECDC and OSHA have a key role to develop systems to collect and analyse data to inform policies that respond to supporting frontline needs, with a focus on building a resilient nursing workforce in the EU.

The EU Institutions also have a central role to building that resilient of the nursing workforce in order to be better prepared for the next health crisis in the EU. Therefore, the EFN urges the European Commission to focus on the impact of COVID-19 on retention and recruitment; the working conditions of frontline nurses; the healthcare expenditure and efficiency; shifting focus from inpatient care to community/primary care, and creating a resilient nursing workforce for long-term care to respond to the ageing population needs.

The EFN recognises the exceptional leadership role of its National Nursing Associations (NNAs) in building a resilient EU nursing workforce. The role of NNAs to protect nurses health and well-being, including protecting nurses from violence, is commendable. Therefore, it is important to build a resilient nursing workforce through the National Recovery and Resilience Plans and monitor the allocation of these EU funds that each European country is receiving. The €672,5-billion-euro fund needs to be used to build a resilient nursing workforce.

We have now a precious opportunity to prepare our health workforce and health systems to be future proofed to respond to current and future threats to the health and well-being of our citizens and wider sustainability of our society.

Therefore, on the 12 May 2021 International Nurses’ Day, the EFN emphasises the vital importance of placing “Health for all EU citizens” at the heart of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Only in this way, will we be able to build resilient healthcare systems, with a main focus on the health and well-being of frontline care.