Challenges faced by the UK healthcare system
The given report discusses the issues that are creating challenges for the overall UK health care system. The National Health Service Act 1946 establishes a framework for providing equal access to a comprehensive health system service, free to all UK residents. The recent budget has announced that NHS will receive the largest sustained funding as of now. The challenge for the NHS is to deliver quality care to justify such a massive injection of public spending.
However, the NHS is the dominant player in health care, but the number of people taking private health insurance has grown dramatically in the past few years. The role of private sector has increased rapidly because the NHS is unable to deliver quality health care service to people. The NHS has outlined several measures to focus on the patient’s needs. The UK healthcare is facing considerable pressure on its budgets because of the rise in the cost of new technology, rising income, and demographic change (Emmerson, Frayne & Goodman, 2007).
Challenges in UK Healthcare System
The NHS is striving hard to meet the expectation of patients by improving quality and performance. The challenges face by the health care system in the UK is threatening the sustainability of a high-quality health service. The following are the three main issues faced by the health care system in the UK:
Demand for NHS Services-
It is becoming extremely difficult for the NHS to provide quality of care because of new spending avenues that are likely to arise. The reason for such concerns is as the economy grows the income, peoples’ expectations of the types of service they need are likely to increase. The NHS is a labor-intensive organization; the future economic growth is likely to put pressure on NHS budgets at the level of the wage bill in economy rise and the hospital wage bill grow.
The cost of adopting new technology is expensive; hence, the NHS requires significant funding increase to meet the health care standard. The population of the developed world is aging. In the UK, there is a high concern over such demographic change. The aging population has implication for the cost of providing health care. The treatment of elderly is expensive compared to other age groups.
The aging group takes a considerable proportion of the health budget. The rising expectation of patients and public for access to the latest therapies, coordinated health and social care services, customized to their needs are posing challenges for the UK health care system.
Supply of NHS Services-
The demographic trends are affecting health care spending. The health care costs vary across the life cycle, but the elderly populations are particularly expensive. The cost of providing care is getting expensive. The healthcare innovation is more costly than the replacement of old technology, for example, the latest cancer therapies raise affordability questions.
The limited financial resources are another challenge that the UK is experiencing. The UK health care system needs to consider how health care expenditure is allocated appropriately to provide integrated services. The UK health care system has limited productivity improvements. Measuring the productivity of NHS is complicated and hotly debated. The recent national statistics suggest that the NHS has not fully utilized its capacity. The improvements in better performance management, reducing the length of stay, and better procurement practices have an important role to play in keeping health expenditure at an affordable level.
Sustainability and improved quality-
Waiting list is another crucial indicator of NHS quality. The long waiting times by patient for treatment is affecting the quality of care provided by the NHS. It has become a challenge for the system to reduce the time and adequately manage the resources. The difference between the results provided by different hospital and regions are often seen as the difference in efficiencies. The differences are unacceptable as they are contrary to the idea of equity that all residents of the UK have the same right to the same level of health irrespective of background (NHS England, 2013).
The UK health care system demands a sustainable system in the face of challenges experienced by the NHS. The aging population and rapidly changing lifestyle has increased the prevalence of chronic disease. It requires strong orientation towards prevention, consistent standards of primary care that is well coordinated and integrated. The proactive and systematic management of chronic illness will improve health outcomes, impact on health inequalities and reduce inappropriate use of hospitals.
The engagement and active empowerment of patients are the greatest resources within the NHS. The UK health care system can overcome the problem of rising waiting time by adapting to integrated models of care. The virtual integration of system and resources will significantly increase productivity and minimize the wastage of resources. The introductions of self-management programs that empower people to improve their health will considerably improve health outcomes and reduce unplanned hospital admission.
The systematic primary prevention is an important measure to lessen the burden of disease in the population. It will also help in maintaining the financial sustainability of the NHS (Transforming our health care system 2013).
Primary prevention programs such as No Smoking days will improve health outcomes and save costs. Successful secondary prevention in early stage of disease such as taking measures to reduce high blood pressure involves low-cost intervention and low-technology (Kotz, 2010).
Hence, it can be concluded that there is a need to transform the UK healthcare system. The future trend and the upcoming issues threaten the sustainability of health care systems in the UK. The NHS England has immense potential and opportunity to transform into a health service that is safe and fit for the future. As discussed the critical issues faced by UK healthcare system needs to be addressed immediately. The suggestion provided above will assist the health care system to improve the quality of care. The measure will help the NHS to maintain its long-term sustainability and transform the health of their population by improving clinical outcomes and reducing cost.
Emmerson, C., Frayne, C. & Goodman, A. (2007). Pressures in UK Healthcare: Challenges for the NHS. London: KKS Printing.
Kotz, D. (2010). How cost-effective is “No Smoking Day”. Tobacco Control, 20 (4), 302-304
NHS England. (2013). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/nhs_belongs.pdf
Transforming our health care system. (2013). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/10PrioritiesFinal2.pdf