Health Promoting Hospitals Network (HPH)

Health promotion is a core dimension of quality in hospital services, along with patient safety and clinical effectiveness. With the rise in chronic diseases, the provision of health promotion services has become an important factor for sustained health, quality of life and efficiency. Moreover, hospitals consume 40–70% of national health care expenditure and typically employ about 1–3% of the working population. As a working environment, hospitals are characterized by certain physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial risk factors.

WHO/Europe is a partner of the Health Promoting Hospitals Network (HPH Network), whose specific objectives are:

  • to change the culture of hospital care towards interdisciplinary working, transparent decision-making and with active involvement of patients and partners;
  • to evaluate health promotion activities in the health care setting and build an evidence base in this area;
  • to incorporate standards and indicators for health promotion in existing quality management systems at hospital and at national levels.

Many hospital staff argue that health promotion is not their function, but the concept goes much further than traditional health promotion. Hospitals are obviously not the main agents in health promotion, but:

  • as institutions with a large number of workers and service users, they can reach a large section of the population (personnel, patients and relatives);
  • as centres of modern medicine, research and education that accumulate much knowledge and experience, they can influence professional practice in other centres and social groups;
  • as producers of large amounts of waste, they can contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution and
  • as large-scale consumers, they can favour healthy products and environmental safety.