Early this week, US President Donald Trump described the National Health Service (NHS) as “going broke and not working”. Although many were quick to criticise this as ‘fake news’, this description may hit too close to home for some in the NHS.
The NHS is the public primary healthcare provider for the UK, where it employs about 300,000 nurses, but this is soon to change. Nurses and doctors have been resigning from the NHS in droves over the past year, resulting in a very real understaffing problem in the UK. In the 2016–2017 period, one in ten nurses left the health service. When contrasted against the reduced number of nurses joining the workforce, this results in a decreasing workforce at a time when workload is increasing at a rate of 10–20%.
This has begun to place an incredible strain on NHS nurses and doctors as they have to deal with an ever-increasing workload due to both demand and understaffing, all while handling a pay cap disincentivising career progression in the UK.
Factors driving the staffing crisis
This trend has a two-fold cause. Firstly, the recent cap to nurse pay is forcing nurses to be sorely undercompensated for an already gruelling job. Secondly, fears by EU staff over their job security regarding Brexit negotiations is leading to 60% of polled staff seriously considering leaving their jobs while EU residents applying for UK jobs have fallen by as much as 90%.
This has led to pre-planned surgeries and operations originally scheduled for the winter of 2017 being postponed to the end of January 2018. Additionally, general shortstaffing concerns have caused accident and emergency (A&E) performance to hit all-time lows, with 77% of patients receiving care within the first four hours of their arrival at an A&E centre.
GlobalData believes that these delays and cancellations of service due to understaffing will cause the growth of the healthcare industry in the UK to slow down, if not regress. As such, if the UK wants to keep the quality of care of its patients up as well as have access to new and innovative technologies, it will need to step up its medical investment.