Sleepwalking into two-tier healthcare
27 July 2021
The pandemic has driven both the NHS and a growing number of its patients
towards private healthcare. Heightened awareness of the health service’s
frailties, fuelled by repeated warnings that it could be overwhelmed, has
prompted a surge in private medical insurance. As the UK drifts into a
possible future of two-tier healthcare, with the wealthy given more chances to
skip the queue, we need to ask whether the founding principle of the UK’s
health service – free at the point of need – is being eroded in front of our
There are about 90 private healthcare providers in the UK, such as HCA,
Circle, Ramsay, Bupa, Spire and Nuffield Health. The industry is worth about
£9bn a year, compared with £177bn of government healthcare spending
across the UK in 2019. It includes hospitals, clinics, diagnostics and imaging
and urgent care; typical work is general surgery, oncology, obstetrics, trauma
Its customers are medical tourists, NHS referrals, people with private medical
insurance and self-pay individuals – so-called “out of pocket” payers. This last
group includes people paying for one-off operations to avoid waiting for NHS
treatment. Ramsay earns about 80% of its revenues from NHS referrals,
The need to clear the operations backlog has made NHS trusts a lot less
squeamish about working with the private sector.
Read the full article at the Guardian
Pandemic drives global workforce crisis
16 July 2021
Before the pandemic, the World Health Organization projected that there
would be a shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030, compared with
demand for 80 million. While lower- and middle-income countries would feel
most of the pain, no-one would escape.
The pandemic looks likely to attract some people into healthcare careers
while driving many more out. In the UK, inspirational stories about the
contribution of nursing to the pandemic response has led to applications for
nursing degrees jumping by a third to a record 60,000 this year, with surges
in both school leavers and people looking for a mid-life change of direction.
But there is compelling worldwide evidence of healthcare staff suffering from
depression, anxiety and insomnia during the pandemic, while industrial
disputes and strikes have been seen in at least 84 countries, largely driven by
poor working conditions and lack of PPE.
By September 2020, health workers accounted for roughly 14 per cent of all
recorded Covid-19 cases globally, despite making up less than three per cent
of the population in most countries. Research by the International Council of
Nurses found that one in five national nursing associations reported
increasing levels of nurses quitting, while 90 per cent reported increased
numbers of nurses planning to leave once the pandemic subsided.
Read the full article at World Healthcare Journal
Errors undermine pandemic response
29 January 2021
The annual analysis of Whitehall by think tank the Institute for Government
reveals how the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been repeatedly
undermined by avoidable ministerial failures.
Whitehall Monitor – now in its eighth edition – gathers and analyses a huge
array of data on all aspects of government performance, such as spending,
staffing and ministerial activity. Its findings – in areas such as procurement,
working with devolved and local governments, and public communications –
lay bare just how poorly ministers have handled the pandemic.
The numbers bring home the enormity of the policy and operational
challenges faced by ministers and civil servants. Government spending hit £1
trillion (US$1.3tn) in 2020/21 for the first time, according to the research – an
increase more than £200 billion (US$275bn) on the previous year. This
includes £147 billion (US$201bn) supporting households and businesses,
alongside £22 billion (US$30bn) on a test and trace system which, according
to the government’s own scientific advisers, has only had a “marginal impact”
on reducing transmission of the virus.
The bill for personal protective equipment (PPE) illustrates how ministers
jettisoned standard procedures for handling public money. The total for PPE
has reached £15 billion (US$20bn), according to the Monitor.
Read the full article at Global Government Forum
Public Policy Media