The NHS has, since its inception in 1948, been the backbone of healthcare in the UK. To most people, it is a treasured national resource with its primary mandate being to provide care to patients whenever they need it. However, this great institution still faces a few challenges.
Here are the five main challenges you might face when working in the NHS.
1) Lack of Adequate Funding
NHS funding growth has been slowing down in recent years, and these financial constraints have a direct impact on patient care. Essential services such as social care have experienced funding cuts and this only mounts to pressure on other services, which quickly become overloaded with referrals (sometimes inappropriately).
Since 2010, there has also been a massive shut down of walk-in centers in a bid to cut down healthcare spending and redirect resources to central locations. Patients now sometimes have to wait for weeks for referral appointments. Unfortunately, what may have been a minor ailment becomes more severe by the time the appointment finally arrives. The result is mounting pressure on existing services, especially A&E services, with patients who would have been treated and released now needing admission and other comprehensive care services.
2) Long Working Hours
The number of people using NHS services is growing by the day, and this amounts to increasing pressure on the system and existing staff. Long working hours are common, yet despite having a solid salary, pay rises that match the ever-growing need for care have been slow. The government is, however, trying to bridge the staffing gap by sourcing talent from overseas and making attempts to grow the domestic healthcare force.
Brexit continues to reign uncertainty in almost all sectors. There is the possibility that the final exit might impact the NHS, but everyone is still not sure how this might happen. Already, there is talk of how nurses from other EU countries are now reluctant to come to the UK as they are unsure of their future and how the exit will impact their jobs. What everyone seems to agree is that the NHS cannot afford to lose foreign staff as they play a significant role in bridging the staffing gap.
4) Long Patient Waiting Times
The current target waiting time averages 18 weeks following a referral. The wait can, however, be a little too long for many. The significant waiting times also comes with the risk of the health condition deteriorating.
5) All-Round Frustration
It can be challenging to see a patient become unwell needlessly due to a funding or resource issue. Healthcare budget cuts have translated to constrained resources, and healthcare providers have to find a way to serve the growing number of patients with minimal resources. When patients have to wait for weeks on end for a planned operation or when walk-ins have to wait for hours at the emergency room, potential for a crisis grows.
Ultimately, it can be too much to dream up a perfect and streamlined public healthcare system. The NHS is, however, working tirelessly to provide high quality services and ensure that patients continue to receive the best care possible.
If you would like to get involved, we can help. Click here to find a rewarding NHS job in the UK.