The COVID-19 pandemic has created the most serious empirical ‘stress test’ for health systems and healthcare workers across the globe; many healthcare workers paid with their health and wellbeing, even with their life. The pandemic not only caused threats and disruptions in all areas of healthcare, it also opened windows of opportunity for innovations, in particular in the health and social care workforce. Indeed, the pandemic shock triggered policy developments that public health professionals had been advocating for many years: the health workforce was moving from a cost factor to the ‘heart and soul’ of health systems. The challenge is now to make these changes sustainable and effective.

This second mid-term Conference seeks to critically reflect on the lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 situation and on how to build a future health workforce that is resilient, fit-for practice and prepared for emergencies.

Taking a multidisciplinary and transnational approach, the conference aims to contribute to the breaking of professional ‘silos’ and to the establishment of health workforce governance based on solidarity, participation and on the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’. It will provide a forum for knowledge exchange across the European health workforce community and beyond.