The social and health crisis that has hit the world in the last few months has made more and more evident that National Health Systems (NHSs) are not sustainable for most of the world’s countries, both in the case of public and universalistic or private and insurance-based systems.
Many factors are at play behind the overall consequences NHSs will face in the short term if no concrete actions are taken by every single country involved in the current crisis: lack of fundings, centralization of healthcare facilities in large urban areas, redefinition of fundamental assistance. Above them all, the one that might affect us the harshest is the lack of healthcare providers operating in public facilities in the near future.
According to the World Health Organization and United Nations forecasts, by 2030 there will be a shortage of more than 18 million healthcare professionals, including doctors,nurses, biotech lab experts, social assistants and all other health-related workers.Despite the popular idea that this crisis will hit Third World and developing countries harder, European nations cannot feel safe from the health wreck coming from it.
All actors involved, from patients to health workers, students and institutions are nowadays fully aware of the consequences that the current situation will have on European healthcare systems.
Whatever the solutions to these problems will be, they will need to structurally reform the way we conceive our NHSs and guarantee continuity, efficiency and proficiency in the long term. They cannot be a temporary solution only to face the unprevented emergency situation healthcare systems have been facing for the last few weeks.
The future of each healthcare system in Europe depends on the proper education of future professionals. It cannot disregard an appropriate assessment of the required skills and competencies and the adequate number of health workers needed country by country.
All other solutions, such as the broadening of available positions in med schools without a coherent increase in funding for medical specialties/specializations, are pure demagogy that tries to deceive the population and it’s likely to make things worse in a future closer than we might expect.
So far the policies implemented by the EU and its member states appear pale and weak compared to the gravity of the crisis. They also proved ineffective when it comes to ensuring healthcare workers the right skills, at the right time and place and in the right amount so as to meet the health needs of the whole population, regardless of their wealth or home address.
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