The NHS is under pressure. You might have the sense that it’s been under pressure for decades. The UK has an aging population, and demand on the service is rising. Trusts across the UK have been spending more than they’ve been allocated, and the result is a decline in quality of care for patients.
The health service in the UK is different than it is in other countries. Brits are inclined towards public displays of gratitude toward the service, of the kind that they would never extend to other public-sector bodies. This came to a head during the Covid-19 pandemic, when rainbows were displayed in windows on every suburban estate, and the public were invited to head out into the garden and break into spontaneous applause every week.
There are things that we can do, however, to help the NHS in a more concrete and substantive way. The easiest thing is to avoid injuring yourself. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, around 2.7 million people are set to A&E departments every year as a result of accidents they’ve suffered in the home. This is on top of the half-a-million workers who are injured each year, some requiring hospitalisation.
Keeping your vehicle in good condition, booking an annual MOT test and passing it, and driving sensibly are all likely reduce your chance of being involved in a road collision, too – which will reduce the likelihood that you’ll be sent into hospital, too.
Businesses have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their workers. Those that fail to do this might find themselves lumbered with legal action. Leaving aside the legal incentives, however, there are good business reasons to keep workers safe.
First, it improves morale. Workers tend to be better motivated when they perceive that their interests are being looked after by their employer, they tend to work harder. Second, it reduces absenteeism and presenteeism. Fewer onsite injuries and illnesses mean greater productivity for the business as a whole. Third, it reduces potential damage to your business’s reputation.
Finally, it’ll reduce the burden imposed by your business on the health service.
Recent NHS stats make for unpleasant reading. Around seven million people in the UK are on the waiting list for a range of routine operations. The data suggest that the NHS is carrying out fewer operations than it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, despite promises to tackle the problem. Waiting times for A&E have skyrocketed, with more than 30,000 patients waiting for longer than 12 hours for treatment.
This isn’t just bad because patients are being made to wait longer – in many cases, patients who are occupying hospital beds are being discharged quicker than they otherwise would, in order to free up capacity for the next patient. As we head into winter, it’s unlikely that the situation is going to improve soon.