As NHS services from elective surgeries to outpatients to imaging begin to restart and provide patients with the care they need, we must be bold and avoid returning to a culture of perverse incentives, low productivity and inadequate uses of time that take valuable clinicians away from what is important – the provision of high quality care to those who need it.
I don’t think we can afford to go back to the way things were before Covid-19. Far too often, we see departments struggling to meet waiting list demands, emergency response, and financial targets that seem to take forever to get to the bottom of. To make it worse, our go to solution seems to be to recruit even more staff into an inappropriate culture that just makes the problem worse.
We have to be willing to question the very assumptions we make, and be brave to challenge the status quo. This means asking ourselves, are we really getting value for money? Are we running our departments as efficiently as possible AND providing the best and most appropriate care?
The most interesting thing I’ve found is that when pitted against a global pandemic and the pressure is on to find capacity, challenge our norms and assumptions and do everything we can to ensure each and every person who suffers from this virus is given the best possible care, we can do it. Of course, many things have helped us cope, such as the relaxation of some rules from the centre and the huge decreases in demand for services such as A&E, but let’s not also forget the staffing ratios that we have very quickly reviewed and changed, the many patients that were discharged over night, and the shift to a more virtual model of care.
We can, and should, be capitalising on this unique opportunity to change the way we do things for the better.