The UK is ranked 18th on the ID Medical index (2019), with a score of 60 out of a possible 100.The NHS, England’s public health service, provides the majority of British healthcare. Despite having the 13th largest healthcare spending, the UK was relegated to 18th place due to a lack of doctors and beds per capita. Our current system prioritises ‘Treatment of Disease’ rather than ‘Health Maintenance,’ with many elements (environmental, social deprivation, unhealthy consumption patterns/lifestyles) that are not normally regulated and managed through the ‘health’ system.
This evidently indicates that improvements can and should be made regarding the British healthcare system, but what improvements you ask, look no further…
Problem 1: High demand
The UK’s health-care system is in disarray, with government funding failing to keep up with demand. Traditional remedies such as increasing expenditures, finding efficiency savings, or relying on market forces are not viable options. Our country’s health necessitates the immediate implementation of a radical new model, negotiated openly between the public, legislators, and healthcare experts. Since 2009, the NHS has grown at a higher rate than the rest of the British economy, however recent strikes have pushed issues like staffing shortages, poor pay, and patient safety to the fore. It’s important to acknowledge that the NHS is not the only health- care system facing the challenge of meeting rising patient demand while also trying to cut costs, nevertheless it is straining to keep up with rising demand and a restricted budget as it enters its ninth decade.
Solution: Share workload
Rather than focusing on staff numbers, change the care model — the ‘assets’ (staff) we need to improve are already on hand, and we must continue to work with and involve them. According to the experiences of the vanguards, the dedicated personnel you have are the employees you need, but they may require assistance in expanding their abilities so that they can provide care in a different way.
No health-care system has all of the solutions, but the NHS can certainly teach us a thing or two. However, in order for the NHS to succeed, it must draw on the knowledge and experiences of other countries. For example, in New Zealand to avoid admissions or get older people home faster, teams offer community-based rehab. As a result, hospital demand has declined as GPs and other community services are ‘taking on more load and responsibility’. This type of approach combined with enhanced and effective communication across all UK healthcare channels could certainly tackle the high demand and understaffed issue the country is facing at the moment. By 2030, the number of persons aged 80 and more will have doubled to 5 million, accounting for 10% of England’s population. Our healthcare needs altering as the population changes. People should be assisted in living as independently as feasible for as long as possible. When people require care, they should be able to make a single phone call to a single service, seven days a week.
Currently, the NHS do provide the ‘111’ service which acts as an aid for medical-related issues you’re unsure of. This has somewhat helped to reduce dreaded waiting times, that I’m certain everyone reading this article has experienced. I’ve personally used the 111 service myself and must say felt much better after speaking and getting advice from someone besides family – who don’t always give the most suitable or practical advice. NHS 111 has received record- breaking numbers of calls, largely due to the pandemic, according to research a lot of these calls went unanswered. This is a major problem.
A possible solution to this problem is having a different number for each region of the country. This way phone lines will not be flooded with calls but rather distributed accordingly.
Problem 2: Staff Morale
NHS staff have been tremendous with significantly helping to deal with the pandemic. From longer working hours to cramped working environments, they truly are heroes. With only a proposed 1% pay rise it is understandable and recognisable why staff morale would be low. We cannot continue to drive change in services for the communities we serve without the support of a workforce that feels valued and motivated.
What can be done to resolve this you ask? – Well, first of all emphasise with employees. Compliments and gratitude can only go so far, staff morale may still be low. Rather than waiting for these periods to pass naturally, take use of them to solicit feedback and seek solutions. Employees are the most valuable asset in your medical practise; treat them with dignity. One of the most effective strategies to boost hospital staff morale is to express your appreciation for their input and include them in decisions that affect them.
Moreover, NHS and key workers deserve a sufficient and deserving pay rise. Plain and simple.
Problem 3: Racial Inequality
The BAME community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Disproportionate mortality and morbidity are just a few of the major concerns. 95% of NHS doctors who died of COVID-19 in the first month of the pandemic were from BAME backgrounds (BMA, 2021). Health conditions, age, and socio-demographic factors all have a role in the disproportionate death rate among BAME employees. Employees are afraid to voice their worries about COVID-19. BAME employees are more likely to report discrimination, which could mean that they are less likely to express their problems or requests. Formal disciplinary processes are more widespread among BAME groups than among white groups, which could explain why people are afraid to raise COVID-19-related problems or ask for help.
In addition, they are under-represented in senior positions. Furthermore, we also have substantial proof of Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on BAME communities, including colleagues in health and care. This has to be a watershed moment. It is not enough to express grief or support; we must do everything we can to address this injustice.
The solution to this might seem obviously but evidently it is not being met. Individuals apart of the BAME community should be treated equally to our counterparts. Race inequality is one part of the greater disparities that exist within the healthcare system. Because of these long-standing inequities, certain members of our society have consistently poorer health and a shorter life expectancy than others. Addressing race inequities will involve a long-term commitment from local leaders and personnel, as well as stronger allyship from white leaders and employees. Perhaps providing more extensive training the importance of equality and equal treatment for all.
To conclude, our healthcare system and workers are doing and constantly do a phenomenal job. Despite there being issues that need ‘fixing’, overall, I would say the NHS has been a driving force for our country since its establishment but especially within the past year.
WE LOVE YOU NHS!