A blitz on hospital acquired infections that kill 37,000 patients a year in Europe and contribute to 110,000 more deaths has been launched by the European Commission.
According to a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report, one in 20 patients catch at least one infection during a hospital stay across the 27 EU countries.
Experts say that if only 7 to 10% were prevented, the entire costs of a comprehensive programme to fight “healthcare-acquired infections” (HCAIs) would be covered.
EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou says: “We must ensure we have a sustainable and high quality health workforce of sufficient capacity and with the right skills to achieve better healthcare for all in Europe”.
The report says that Europe’s ageing population is increasing demands on health workers who are themselves ageing – with insufficient recruits to replace those coming up to retirement.
The Commission is calling for efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of staff in the healthcare sector, but will not produce concrete proposals until the consultation period expires next year.
Health workers account for about 10% of all jobs in the EU, and 70% of EU healthcare budgets go on salaries and other employment-related costs.
Copyright Press Association 2008