Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-01-14-Speech-2-262"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, my compliments to Mr Mario Mantovani, who has carried out the onerous task of determining the difficult challenges which health care systems and public health polices in European Union countries will have to face, in view of the ageing of the population, and, not least, in view of enlargement. Although the provision of health care in general and care for the elderly in particular is essentially the responsibility of the Member States, it is right that we look to broader European cooperation in order to face these problems, given the extremely difficult situation which countries continue to experience. One of the difficulties is the nursing shortage: in fact, an ever-increasing number of nurses will be needed. The increased life expectancy of the European population, with a growing adult proportion, will create the difficult question of the staff who must care for them, staff who must, moreover, be increasingly qualified owing to the specific nature of the diseases which affect the elderly. Employment of nursing staff has already increased by more than twice the average in the last five years: a level of employment which, however, is still not enough to meet the demand. Secondly, it is easy to foresee that this shortage will be felt particularly keenly when, thanks to enlargement, there will be increased mobility of patients from the CEEC, whose health systems provide less than those in the Community, because they will automatically turn to cross-border health services. From this point of view, an issue comes to the fore: ensuring a high level of human health protection, as set out in Article 152 of the Treaty of Amsterdam and as specified by the goals of the Community action programme in the field of public health, which, moreover, calls for universal and equal access to health services, the constant improvement of these services and promotion of the social inclusion of people with disabilities and people in the most vulnerable categories. Qualitative principles in the field of health care can be put into effect through the creation of specialised higher training for nurses, financed by European training funds, which encourage people to obtain further professional qualifications in important areas such as oncology, transplants, heart surgery and all the age-related diseases. With the launch of this higher training, we will ensure access to health services for European citizens, the provision of high-quality care and financially sustainable care systems, which is included in the three objectives proposed by the Barcelona European Council. In order to ensure care for all, however, the European Union Member States need to take steps to raise young people’s awareness of paramedical professions. The solution to this problem must be implemented quickly since it concerns all the Member States. It is all well and good to raise awareness of the profession among young people of the Member States but, up to now, this has been on too small a scale, so much so that there are far fewer qualified nurses than the countries need. This opportunity should therefore also be extended to CEEC qualifications, in order to resolve a twofold problem quickly: to respond to the nursing crisis in the Member States and to respond to the situation of countless immigrants seeking work in Europe. What I am about to say may sound like a provocation, but I cannot avoid talking to you about another serious problem which concerns citizens from every European country, that is the 500 000 job cuts in the engineering industry over the next four or five years, a figure I have been given by an international trade union source. This employment problem could be resolved in part though the transfer of qualified resources from one sector to another. The mobility and retraining of the unemployed engineering workers who hold an advanced secondary education qualification could be achieved by providing them with access to information on nursing. I would close by calling on everyone to reflect on what has been said regarding the need to remedy as soon as possible the nursing shortage in the European Union, the need to meet the quality criteria for care specified in the Community action programme by providing higher training, and the need to respond to the specific employment needs of the citizens of the Member States with solutions such as mobility and retraining, looking, where these prove inadequate, to human resources from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe."@en1

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