National Health Service: chronicles from a state of emergency

Marta Cristofanini

It’s a crisis which can’t be ignored. Some of its causes are common and lead us to reflect beyond any political controversy (yes, we are going to talk about Brexit too)

Emergency of the National Health Service in England: reasons and issues

It’s a sensitive gear, the one we are experiencing since the beginning of the new millennium. That’s when a disruptive phenomenon called globalization started to change our way of thinking and experiencing the world. These remodelings have strongly affected societies and their economies, and something different it’s happening now in a “reverse” context. Indeed, there is a negative inflection on “openness” and brexit has been one of the new year’s event summarizing effects. One specific case in which these effects proved to be is the emergency that is affecting England’s National Health Service.

Collateral effects are behind the corner. Among all, they could concern also national health systems’ quality and medical assistance’s availability. Which kind of repercussions are coming down on England and what can we learn from them?

A shortage of specialized personnel

According to an article from House of Common Libraries, the World Health Organisation announced a healthcare workforce gap of 14,5 million by 2030. This is a global emergency that mustn’t be underestimated.

In UK, one of the most urgent issue concerns an enormous lack of nurses, with one in eight posts vacant and with the greatest peak in London’s area.

Due to the aging of the population and the decrease of mortality rate, the demand is going to keep rising despite the low offer. So it’s clear to see where the emergency lies in the National Health Service. How is the situation escalating?

In 2018, the healthcare workforce was composed of 12% by non-British nationals; in 2019, 65,000 EU nationals were employed in NHS Hospital and Community Health Services. Doctors and nurses seem to be the categories joined the most by EU citizens.

It’s evident that the situation is going to get worse as long as brexit will diffuse its effects in terms of jobs’ concessions; and that without mentioning another delicate issue: the difficult retention of workers in social care.

There are too few specialized people working in the field, with a workload pressure becoming unsustainable. Intelligent assistive devices such as Kibi could really fulfill lacks and boost up efficiency of current workers. How? By lightening their tasks and economizing their interventions.

Reasons and issues of the state of emergency of English National Health Service

Care home places are in the eye of the storm

During the recent past years, many care home places have collapsed, while in those reminders the quality of assistance has been drastically lowered.

The British Geriatrics Society is alarmed because old people’s growing number is going to face a system’s void. How to safeguard this vulnerable age range?

Actually, it’s true that are closing those care home places which are way too expensive; but then affordable ones are too charged for what are their resources. And again, there are post-brexit repercussions in addiction to expect.

The chief of geriatrics society, Prof Tahir Masud – in an article from The Guardian – warns:

If care homes can’t afford to bring in good people from outside the UK prepared to work for lower wages and as few people inside the UK want to take the jobs instead, as is the case now, then care homes will be forced to employ people they might have concerns about. The risk then is of abuse and very low quality of care.

To prevent old people going to hospitals, there would be a need for more geriatric doctors within the community. But they are somehow rare in hospitals too.

This looks like a checkmate; we need to develop and adopt new strategies as soon as possible. And we need to do it in order to protect who are the most exposed and potentially damaged by these great social changes: the elderly.

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