Deteriorating working conditions, lack of staff, job burnout: the health sector has been experiencing a serious crisis for a number of years. Across Europe, the trade unions are ringing alarm bells. The health of their members is at serious risk. In the countries worst affected by the recession, the policies of austerity have made the situation even worse and their knock-on effect has been a reduction in the quality of care.

Table of contents

Editorial - 100 000 work cancer deaths: time for action!

The former head of the EU’s Safety and Health at Work Agency Jukka Takala has sounded a wake-up call: cancers induced by working conditions kill over 100 000 people in the European Union each year. Cancers account for 53% of work-related deaths compared to just 2% for work accidents. Every one of these deaths can be prevented. To do away with... Find out more

Deregulation continues to kill

We are used to reading warnings on cigarette packets: ‘Smoking kills’. This should not distract from other vital health factors. The paralysis in European occupational health policy has become one of these vital factors. More than 160 000 dead every year, including some 100 000 from occupational cancers. One worker in two considers that he will not... Find out more

Caroline Verdoot

Hospitals tested by austerity

The austerity policies being followed in most European countries have not spared the health systems. Poor people are not the only ones to suffer. Nursing staff have seen their working conditions deteriorate rapidly over recent years. More and more of them no longer see themselves as part of current developments in the hospital world. The austerity... Find out more

Nathalie Pédestarres

Spain: at the bedside of a public health service verging on melt-down

Since 2008 and the consequences of the economic and financial crisis, Spanish hospitals have been hit by budget cuts and creeping privatisation. These austerity measures are being reflected in a deterioration in working conditions and the quality of the care provided. In the face of all this, trade unions, employees and user associations are... Find out more

Denis Grégoire

Occupational health: a starting point for European social dialogue

Since 2006, representatives of the staff and management of private and public hospitals have met regularly as members of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the Hospital Sector, a body recognised by the European Commission. Occupational health issues quickly made it onto the agenda, and tangible results were soon achieved, with an... Find out more

Rachel Knaebel

The invisible workers caring for the German elderly

German hospitals, clinics and retirement homes are desperately short of labour. They are therefore recruiting more and more foreign care staff, mainly women, from eastern and southern Europe. With the low wages, employment contracts with exploitative clauses and onerous tasks, Germany is not the Eldorado hoped for. 'What you have to do to work in... Find out more

Marianne De Troyer

MSDs: why wholly technology-based solutions do not work

Nursing is strenuous work and in most European countries a high proportion of workers want to leave the profession. Physically demanding tasks are a major factor: manual handling of patients (getting them on their feet, moving them, transferring them, lifting and repositioning them) and having to maintain restrictive and uncomfortable positions... Find out more

Marianne De Troyer

Chemotherapy: a risk ignored by nursing staff

With the constant increase in the number of people affected by cancer – according to the WHO, there will be a 70% increase in the number of new cases over the next two decades – nursing staff are required to treat a growing number of cancer patients, notably with chemotherapy. This type of treatment uses medicines that prevent the rapid growth and... Find out more

Denis Grégoire

A night in Accident and Emergency

Saint-Pierre University Hospital is the oldest hospital in Brussels. Located in one of the city’s most working-class neighbourhoods, Les Marolles, it occupies the site of a medieval leper colony. That social calling has lasted down the ages and is a key part of the institution’s identity. The hospital describes itself as ‘secular and social’ and is... Find out more

Denis Grégoire

Making occupational illness visible: a call for a coalition between scientists and workers

Some 40 trade unionists and researchers coming principally from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy took part in a seminar organised jointly by the ETUI and the Belgian association Santé & Solidarité. The purpose of the event was to present projects involving participation by both researchers and workers in the service of a common... Find out more

Rob Edwards

Bhopal: the long flight from justice

Last December marked the 30 th anniversary of the worst industrial disaster India has ever known. Three decades after Bhopal, among the survivors and their descendants, the wounds have not yet healed. Above all, these people continue to be haunted by the sense that justice has failed them. On a hot and hectic street in the Indian city of Bhopal... Find out more

Denis Grégoire

Advocating a new ‘hands-on’ approach to science

Her rejection of the Légion d’Honneur in August 2012 gained her a great deal of publicity. Was this through some sense of bravado, a desire to be talked about or did she simply delight in being provocative? No, not at all. It is true that Annie Thébaud-Mony has never sought to 'hobnob' with the political – or academic – elite but the French... Find out more

There’s nothing accidental about these disasters

Mining disasters have been happening for centuries, as if working in the entrails of the Earth demands human sacrifices. Michael Quinlan’s book questions the fatalism with which this slaughter is sometimes viewed. It analyses mining disasters in five highly developed countries: Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United... Find out more

Table of contents

The nursing world at tipping point