Whilst the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt globally, the long-term impacts of the past two years can already be largely seen – perhaps no more clearly than in the healthcare sector. Leaving a legacy of workforce and capacity challenges, policymakers and healthcare leaders across the world are continuing to contend with the pandemic’s devastating consequences.
COVID-19 highlighted problems for healthcare workers
The increased demand for healthcare on a global scale during the pandemic exacerbated the existing pressures on healthcare services and their workforces. The unfortunate reality is that the pandemic created a culture of long working hours with restricted breaks due to contamination and risk of spreading the virus. In the early days of COVID-19, the world also saw many healthcare staff living alone for months at a time to protect their loved ones, adding further to the emotional strain of working in the sector. Subsequently, we have seen a large increase in resignations amongst healthcare staff.
Hospitals across the world are therefore experiencing workforce shortages that are unfortunately set to continue – indeed, assessments suggest that England alone will need 475,000 additional jobs in the healthcare workforce by the 2030s. Given the time-lags associated with training qualified healthcare professionals, this crisis is set to further intensify.
Offering a lifeline to the global healthcare workforce before, during and indeed beyond the pandemic, insourced healthcare staff provide an invaluable support network by increasing the capacity of traditional healthcare providers and allowing more patients to receive the care they need. Insourcing is prevalent in the UK and Ireland and involves a managed service of the appropriate full team of clinicians to deliver surgery and clinics with the hospital’s estate – the managed service should be viewed as “additive” to the local health economy. At a time when staff are continuing to contract COVID-19 themselves and having to take time off of work at short notice, insourcing staff are also providing vital last-minute support which enables health providers to continue delivering patient care.
Though insourcing has a broadly positive contribution to the health and social care sectors, there has developed a short-termism within the provision of insourced staff that has led to a culture of individuals being employed on short contracts at hospitals long distances from their homes. The resulting longer travel times and greater accommodation costs is leading to low retention in these roles. This creates significant turnover in the number of insourced staff at a particular Trust and is unsustainable given the size of the challenge facing the global healthcare workforce.
Supporting healthcare workers to overcome workplace challenges
Ultimately, to maximise the benefits of insourced staff, it is imperative that insourcing organisations prioritise best-practice knowledge sharing, training, and integration to establish the appropriate long-term approach that is required to truly overcome workforce challenges. At Remedy Healthcare Solutions, we are experts in insourcing and modular healthcare and understand the value of supporting healthcare professionals through this innovative approach.
By dedicating resources to the training of existing staff within a Trust, we can share best-practice with other healthcare professionals, supporting the up-skilling of the workforce and enhancing integration between the Trust’s team and insourced staff. This amounts to a more efficient way of working and builds long-term resilience within the workforce. In addition, we pride ourselves on sourcing staff from areas local to the Trust facility to ensure that travel time and overnight costs are minimal, increasing the likelihood of an insourced employee returning to the place of work. These measures work to reduce the burden on the healthcare workforce and create an environment where insourced staff can seamlessly support existing healthcare staff to optimise efficiency and, most importantly, deliver positive patient outcomes.
To overcome the workforce challenges currently facing the global healthcare profession, it is imperative that policymakers and healthcare leaders everywhere prioritise solutions to ensure existing staff do not become overworked or burnt out, leading to their eventual exit from the healthcare labour market altogether. Whilst increased education and training at an entry level are no doubt important to achieving this, the time-lag associated with this process necessitates that more rapid solutions are also implemented. As such, it is essential that the standards and expectations within the insourcing profession are uplifted to promote the best offering for the sector and to create a genuinely comprehensive solution that sows the seeds of resilience within the healthcare workforce.