Workshop tackles challenges of health workforce change

Greece is faced with the challenge of making changes to its health workforce to make it more sustainable and fit for purpose in the long term. This is an essential component in the ongoing reforms of the Greek health system, which are crucial to achieving universal health coverage, and improving population health and quality of care.

Successful change requires having a robust and well thought through strategy; to this end the Greek authorities, WHO/Europe, the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Royal Tropical Institute (KiT) in Amsterdam and the WHO Country Office in Greece collaborated to facilitate a 2-day workshop with local and international experts in human resources for health (HRH).

The workshop, entitled “Developing an HRH strategy”, took place on 21–22 March 2018. Its main objective was to identify priorities for the health workforce strategy in a challenging context. Sustainable workforce planning has to overcome the limitations of workforce data, education planning and management, and the difficulty of sustainably allocating funds and setting remuneration levels.

The 12 participants at the workshop included representatives from the main professional associations, regional health authorities, Ministry of Health and the National Organization for Health Care Provision. All participants were encouraged to be actively involved and contribute to the formulation of the proposed workforce strategy.

Dimitris Dimitriadis, Deputy Director of the 5th Regional Health Authority described the event as “a most rewarding 2-day workshop, which highlighted the need for well-documented decision-making and the importance of change management in times of transition and transformation”.

The next step, following on from the workshop, will be the delivery of a rapid assessment report on the health workforce in Greece, which will underpin the formulation of a strategic plan for HRH.

The Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health (adopted by Member States at the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016) is the basis for the strategic plan, which will consider the key challenges of optimizing the existing workforce, strengthening the available HRH data, anticipating and planning for future workforce requirements, and strengthening individual and institutional capacity to develop and manage cost-effective policy.

The workshop was carried out under the second phase of the Strengthening Capacity for Universal Coverage (SCUC2) initiative, which began in 2016 with the objective of improving health and health equity in Greece, especially in vulnerable populations, by strengthening the health system. SCUC2 is funded by the European Union under an agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe.