During the last year Covid-19 has caused disruptions within our society that have not been seen for many years. There is no doubt that mistakes were made and lessons need to be learnt for future.
There are many obvious questions that arise as a result of the crisis. Many people might say that the government should have acted sooner and closed the borders to prevent the virus from entering the country in the first place. Perhaps a mass testing system should have been enforced to contain the spread of Covid-19 which might have saved many lives. However, wisdom with hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is time to deal with reality.
It is my intention to focus on the two sectors which, I believe, are the most relevant regarding Covid-19. These are the NHS and the Care Sector.
The United Kingdom’s NHS is considered to be the best public health system in the world. It is the country’s largest employer, its budget is enormous and, to many people, it is seen as a ‘ national treasure’ full of dedicated people serving the nation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many problems within the NHS. Firstly, why was the service not fully prepared for such a crisis? As the virus spread and large numbers of Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals there were reports of shortages of PPE for staff as well as an overload in ICUs.
Were these problems a result of institutional or economic failures? Can we point the finger of blame at the government?
Even before the crisis hit the country the NHS was under pressure. In fact, it always seems to be the same old story and, I’m sorry to say, that not much seems to change from one year to the next. There are always reports of underfunding, unacceptable waiting times, a shortage of beds and low morale amongst the staff.
Does the NHS need radical reform in order to solve the main problems once and for all? Is it time to ask difficult questions and find the answers?
Who exactly is responsible for taking major decisions within hospitals and do the people who work there have an input into how their workplace operates? I think that would be a good idea to involve experienced NHS employees in the policy making process as well as planning for any future crisis situations. Surely, there are many lessons that the NHS can learn from the experience of the pandemic?
I also believe that the government could take a more active role in providing the resources and equipment that the NHS might need for any future emergency. Instead of outsourcing from other countries, the government could make use of various departments to produce quality products in this country. This would create employment and save money.
It is also important to promote the NHS a good career move for younger people as well as the population in general. Improvements could be made to make a job within the NHS more attractive by highlighting the benefits such good pay and conditions, a job for life and being appreciated by society.
Covid-19 has also shown that there problems that need to be considered with the Care Sector.
What type of care system does the nation need to look after the sick and the elderly as well as those that might be vulnerable to any future crisis?
Should there be more public and less private care? Does the government have a major role in this area and how should later in life care be funded?
I believe that the government does have a major role to play and should regulate the private sector making sure that care homes are up to standards. Too many people end up paying too much money to see out the last days of their lives.
Should the NHS and the Care Sector be joined together in some way to avoid some of the mistakes that occurred during the crisis?
Is the social care system dysfunctional? Does central government need to take a more active role in guiding local authorities to deliver social care within the community? I believe that it should as if the problems are not solved then the ‘ NHS picks up the pieces of the broken social care system’ as one MP once put it!