Ignoring the needs of our future workforce could have disastrous consequences for the UK NHS and its patients.
Ignoring the needs of our future workforce could have disastrous consequences for the UK NHS and its patients. In economics, we have a pretty complicated name (hyperbolic discounting) for a very common human inclination, that is to consider that today matters…
Ignoring the needs of our future workforce could have disastrous consequences for the UK NHS and its patients. In economics, we have a pretty complicated name (hyperbolic discounting) for a very common human inclination, that is to consider that today matters much more than tomorrow. However, the UK NHS is facing the consequences of the workforce being planned mostly for the short term as if tomorrow doesn’t quite count.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, more ordinary concerns are recapturing our attention. We are slowly leaving behind a constant state of emergency and, at times, unavoidable improvisation.
The resulting number of vacancies is astonishingly high. NHS England alone had 110,192 vacancies, equivalent to an 8.3 % vacancy rate at the end of 2021. GPs are experiencing a similar situation, and certain medical specialities are under higher pressure than others (i.e., anaesthetists or radiologists). There is no sign that these vacancies are going to be filled in the near future. Welcome, but insufficient, piecemeal governmental efforts to increase nurses, doctors and GP recruitment and the partial restitution of the nurses’ and medical bursaries are not considered enough to address the present and future staffing problems.
In conclusion, COVID-19 has made it more evident than ever that a health care system must be resilient as well as sustainable. These two objectives might clash at times, but this is escalated when the budget is guided by short-term objectives that do not take into consideration the needs of tomorrow. Given the eternal budgetary constraints faced by the NHS, understanding the health care system workforce’s upcoming requirements are more vital than ever. Carefully orchestrated integration and coordination solutions could alleviate today and tomorrow’s blockages. It is time that decision-makers realise the benefits of behaving maturely, stop ignoring the future, and leave behind the current short-sighted approach to NHS workforce planning.
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