The healthcare staffing crisis in the United Kingdom is a much talked about topic at the moment. There are many different opinions on how big the issues are and what can be done to fix them. This blog post will explore both the magnitude of the problems and some potential solutions to address the issues.
The current state of Affairs
The National Health Service (NHS) in England is facing significant challenges with regards to its workforce.Due to a number of reasons - including an ageing population and an increasing number of people with complex health needs - there is a growing demand for NHS services. At the same time, there is a decreasing supply of staff to provide those services. This has led to what has been termed a "staffing crisis" in NHS England.
The most recent data from NHS Digital shows that, as of September 2019, there were more than 100,000 vacancies for NHS roles in England. This includes almost 34,000 nursing vacancies and more than 12,000 doctor vacancies. Other roles that are vacant include support staff, managers, and other clinical professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The lack of staff has also been exacerbated by Brexit, with many European Union nationals leaving the NHS since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.
How this affects patients
This staffing crisis has had a number of negative consequences for patients in England. One of the most significant impacts has been an increase in waiting times for treatment. In December 2018, it was reported that one in seven patients in England were waiting longer than four months for their first outpatient appointment. This is the worst performance on record and is due in part to the fact that there are not enough staff available to see patients in a timely manner.
Another way that patients have been affected by the staffing crisis is through an increase in cancellations of planned operations. In December 2018, it was reported that one in ten planned operations were cancelled on the day they were due to take place due to a lack of staff or beds. This figure has increased from one in twenty five cancellations just three years ago. Cancelling operations can be very disruptive for patients, particularly if they have made arrangements with work or childcare.
What can be done about it?
There is no single solution to addressing such a complex problem but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of the staffing crisis on patients and improve access to care. One way to do this is by increasing investment in training healthcare professionals. This would help to increase the supply of staff available to work in NHS roles. Another way to address the issue is by making working conditions more attractive so that more people are motivated to work within healthcare roles. This could involve improving pay and working hours or providing more opportunities for flexible working arrangements."
The healthcare staffing crisis in England is having a significant negative impact on patients who are waiting longer for appointments and treatment as well as experiencing an increase in cancelled operations . While there is no single solution to this complex problem , increasing investment in training healthcare professionals and making working conditions more attractive could help mitigate some of these effects .