For years, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been feeling the strain of underfunding and over utilisation. Long waits to see GPs and for elective care have pushed some to seek private treatment, while the list has only gotten longer due to the Covid pandemic. The lack of funding is seen as the main burden to the health service, but an ageing population that requires more elderly care is also pushing it to its limit. So how can the NHS begin to clear its waiting lists and once again provide free, high-level care to its users? Below we look at some of the options to consider that have the potential to help.
1) Get extra funding
Easier said than done but it seems like the majority of the issues seem to go back to a lack of funding. A shortage in staff from caregivers, to nurses and doctors, has been exacerbated by Brexit and the Covid pandemic. Relatively low salaries for nurses means there are a record number of vacancies in public healthcare which the government are struggling to fill. Extra funding to entice more healthcare workers into the NHS as well as improving access to healthcare nationwide would go a long way to shortening waiting lists for consultations and surgery. However, where this funding could come from remains to be seen.
2) Offer more online consultations
Often, patients visit their GPs for consultations that could be easily conducted online. Not only would this free up in-house consultation slots for more urgent cases, but it saves a lot of time and effort for both the doctor and the patient. Offering online consultations is just a method of improving efficiency but can also improve the healthcare reach – no longer would care be limited to a person’s physical location, benefiting those who have limited mobility or are in more rural areas.
It can take up to a few weeks to even see a GP in some areas of the UK for consultations that often don’t even last 15 minutes. By offering online consultations, much more time can be saved for all parties involved, therefore giving doctors extra time to fit in more patients. If all the NHS doctors around the UK were able to do this, there would certainly be much shorter waiting lists.
3) Improve technology use in all areas
Increased use of technology in all aspects of healthcare, while not without its occasional issues, over time has led to improved levels of care and efficiencies. The healthcare system is able to take many ideas from other industries to improve itself – we have seen conference room scheduling displays from offices find use in hospitals to book rooms for patients and consultations, removing the need for paper-based recordings and scheduling. By improving the amount of technology and the quality of it used in all aspects of healthcare, health problems will be caught sooner, dealt with quickly before they get worse, and this will therefore reduce the eventual waiting list of procedures such as surgeries as you would nip the problem in the bud.