It is, perhaps, the UK’s most treasured institution and the envy of many other countries around the world. The National Health Service (NHS), however, is suffering staff shortages and, many people feel that it is underfunded. So, what needs to be done to keep it and those who rely on it safely?
With nurses set to protest over pay caps, a new YouGov poll reveals that staff and funding shortages are harming patient care. The results of the poll show that seven out of ten voters thought that there are too few nurses, while 57% of voters said they would pay more tax to make the NHS safer.
There is little doubt that an increase in the number of nurses would improve patient care and safety, but there are some other areas that need to be looked at if a holistic approach to improved safety and care is to be achieved.
Technology and Equipment
On June 17, hackers managed to break into the computer systems of around 40 NHS trusts, denying healthcare professionals access to digital resources and records. The reason that they were able to this? NHS IT systems were not all up to date, and in many cases, both the hardware and software being used were no longer fit for the intended purpose.
TechMalak wrote in April 2017, about how the NHS could save millions by using technology to reduce its energy costs. Savings such as these could be used to maintain existing technology and equipment and to invest in new equipment that would enhance the service, help make it more efficient, safer and more secure.
Testing and Maintenance
For this to happen, existing NHS technology and equipment needs regularly testing to ensure the safety of patients. Companies like MCS Test play a pivotal role in ensuring that the equipment currently used in hospitals is safe, offering consultation and test equipment to calibrate instruments and to make sure optimum performance from the equipment is ongoing.
It has, however, long been acknowledged that the NHS has been slow to embrace new technologies and for many, this is where the future of the NHS lies.
Disruptors and Innovation
Professor Tony Young, Director of Innovation for NHS England, argues that there is an opportunity for the organisation to improve when it comes to adopting new technology. Speaking to the Spectator, Professor Young said that this is
“one of the most exciting times I’ve seen in my career, to be in medicine at the moment.”
He continued by saying that NHS leaders should
“look at using disruptive things that can really transform healthcare and the way we deliver it.”
Professor Young’s vision for the future is one that sees technology and tech companies empowering patients to take a greater role in their healthcare, while doctors can change the way they interact with patients with modern tech.
The U.S.A has been much quicker than the UK when it comes to utilising new technologies within their healthcare programme. To follow their example may be one way that the NHS could move forward, but whether this would mean stepping away from a national health service and closer toward private healthcare remains to be seen.