Need for healthcare staff set to rise steeply, says report

Foreign workers currently make up about 30% of nursing staff on average, although this varies from region to region. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The number of healthcare and support staff in Switzerland has increased by 19% since 2012, but another 70,000 people will be needed by 2029, according to a report by the Swiss Health ObservatoryExternal link (OBSAN).

This content was published on September 7, 2021 - 12:40

The growing need for staff reflects increasing demand for care, driven mainly by demographic and epidemiological developments, says the national 2021 reportExternal link on future healthcare staff needs, published on Monday.

Starting from a total of 185,600 people in the care and support sector in 2019, OBSAN estimates that staffing requirements could rise to 222,100 people by 2029, corresponding to an additional requirement of 36,500 people. The next generation of healthcare workers will have to fill these additional positions and also make up for retirements and early exits from the profession.

There is therefore a significant gap between the expected supply and the needs, the report notes. With the number of nursing diplomas having risen steadily between 2012 and 2019, OBSAN hopes this can be at least partly filled by a continued increase in training.

For the moment, gaps are being filled by foreign workers. People trained abroad now make up an average 30% of nursing staff, although this varies considerably from region to region, the report notes.

Measures to retain the health workforce must be combined with a continued increase in training, it says. Recommendations include improving the work-life balance for healthcare staff, improvements in career planning, professional development and the promotion of young talent.

This is the third such national report, after those of 2009 and 2016. For the first time, this report was written jointly by OBSAN, the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors and the national umbrella organisation for healthcare workers (OdASanté).

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