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How Long Will It Take The NHS To Recover Financially From COVID?

How Long Will It Take The NHS To Recover Financially From COVID?

It cannot be doubted that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected healthcare services around the world.

In particular, it has been stated that the NHS’s financial recovery from COVID-19 will be a long and tumultuous journey. So, how long will the financial recovery of the NHS take?

The pre-pandemic NHS

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) was already under extreme pressure even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Staff shortages, long waiting lists, and funding issues were only a few of its problems. As a result, the NHS went into the pandemic understaffed and with less resources compared to its counterparts in other countries.

For example, one report showed that in comparison to countries like Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, and the Netherlands, the UK’s overall performance ratings in terms of health resources such as doctors per person, hospital beds per person, and spending per person, were considerably worse than the other aforementioned countries.

This shows that the NHS pre-pandemic was not in a good state, and the COVID-19 pandemic hitting when it did was not helpful for the NHS in any way, but arguably aggravated the pre-existing problems within the healthcare service instead.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the NHS

Due to the issues within the NHS before the pandemic, it was not surprising that the NHS struggled to effectively handle the COVID-19 situation compared to other health systems. There were increasing pressures on the overall performance of the NHS during the pandemic, including in relation to the supply of vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE), which required money.

As a direct response to the pandemic, health spending increased in 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. Meanwhile, the NHS was still facing other challenges alongside the Covid-19 pandemic, including workforce shortages and a backlog in elective and primary care services. Taking into account all of the problems within the NHS during this time, it is not shocking that many NHS staff members are experiencing stress and burnout.

It goes without saying that there is currently a NHS workforce crisis. And with more and more NHS staff leaving the organisation, the emergence of medical job finder apps such as MediMatch is becoming more important when it comes to finding medical-related job opportunities for nurses as the demand for nurses rises. In particular, apps or sites like these help nurses find jobs catered to their needs, such as improved working conditions or better employee benefits.

A proportion of NHS spending goes into staff salaries, and a large proportion of it if we may add, so it may be worth considering whether having a smaller workforce could help the health service financially.

However, fewer workers also leads to reduced efficiency, which has an adverse effect on the quality of the services the NHS can provide, especially since it caters to millions of people.

Therefore, the NHS instead needs to find ways to pay its staff members accordingly without compromising the overall budget, which could underfund other factors of the organisation.

The post-pandemic NHS

It may be difficult to ascertain what a ‘post-pandemic’ NHS will look like as even though COVID-19 lockdowns have ended, the virus still exists and is infecting people even as of the end of 2022. Although it could be argued that the NHS is now better equipped to handle these situations as it has garnered experience in the last few years, there is still demanding pressure on the NHS in relation to its care services as a whole.

In terms of its financial state, the UK Government announced in 2021 that the resource budget of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – which helps fund NHS England – will rise by 3.8 per cent on average each year until 2024/2025 to help combat the cost pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Typically, NHS funding also comes from tax revenues and National Insurance (NI), but it does not seem enough to help the NHS financially recover in a short and quick process. Instead, many analysts believe it will take a long time until the NHS can fully recover from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite DHSC’s promises in reforming the social care system through investments, it appears that the NHS still has a long way to go, especially since it may have already been crumbling prior to the pandemic.

If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the NHS’s pre-existing issues, finally forcing the government and other institutions to finally see how the healthcare service needed extreme reform to not only help it organise its funding properly, but also help improve NHS staff retention.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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