Welcome to this month’s UK Workforce Policy Update
Through these regular updates we will share with you some of the key developments in different areas of health and care policy, all through publicly available resources.
Developments for 2022
This month, King’s Fund published their annual review of the year’s policy milestones. This included the progression of the Health and Care Bill, which is currently being reviewed in the House of Lords. An explanation of the key points, written by Unison, can be found here. The NHS Confederation has outlined their thoughts on the bill for the workforce. Meanwhile, another incoming bill, the Nationality and Borders Bill (described in November’s HLA:Think bulletin), has been criticised in the BMJ for how it’ll affect healthcare workers.
There have been specific commitments made for women’s health and mental health care. In Scotland, there are also proposals for children’s mental health services by increasing funding for staff training places. This comes as the pandemic continues to impact service users and providers. For staff, it is reported that hundreds of medics each month are seeking mental health support following pandemic burnout. Wales’ ‘My Winter Health Plan’ has returned, hoping to reduce Winter pressures through preventing emergency admissions. Meanwhile, it has been warned that staff’s efforts must continue to be recognised as thousands of healthcare workers consider retiring as the NHS’ latest pension scheme comes into effect this year.
Restructuring International Healthcare
Looking forward, technology is predicted to help shape how workforces are made more efficient. This includes using artificial intelligence to communicate across borders the spread of diseases across borders. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is expected to modernise its approval process, meaning patients can gain access to treatments more quickly. Meanwhile, in France, healthcare administrative services are being moved online. Across the Pond, the American Rescue Plan aims to change Medicaid and improve healthcare equity across the country.
Efforts are also being directed towards the integration of the health-economic impacts of global warming into climate policy. This includes the USA’s EPA and WHO increasing decision-making opportunities for healthcare workers in underserved populations, which builds on commitments from last year’s COP26 Conference. Furthermore, as health systems are reported to produce 5% of global emissions, the Nursing Times discussed how WHO’s message to health professionals can be implemented into training.
From Pandemic to Endemic
The UK government has progressed with its goal ‘to live with covid’ as health leaders debate the prospect of Covid-19 reaching endemic status. As part of their Road Ahead Report, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations discusses what this may look like for its workers. This comes as countries including Israel, England and Germany reduce self-isolation times to cope with rising staff absence due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. WHO has advised that more data is needed before beginning to treat covid ‘like the flu’ as cases continue to rise.
Meanwhile, mandatory Covd-19 vaccination is set to be implemented at the start of April, despite calls for delay from workforce unions such as the BMA, Royal Colleges of Nursing and Trades Union Congress. There are fears of staffing shortages to be exacerbated as 85,000 NHS staff in England have not been vaccinated. The government has developed the Health and Care Visa Scheme to try and overcome this.
Produced by Heather McAdam, Daniel Darko