Working within the private healthcare sector has not been without its challenges this past year. A contentious subject at times, any disputes between the NHS and private hospitals were set aside in early 2020 as the Government pledged to secure extra bed space for patients affected by the pandemic. As such, NHS England signed a deal ensuring access to most of the private sector’s hospital beds and staff.
The original agreement has since been revised, but the need for the NHS to utilise private facilities remains and as such, continues to affect those working within the sector. For most workers, this is made more complex by already having one foot in both camps.
A report by The Kings Fund, ‘Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England’ details how the NHS and the private sector share the consultant and specialist workforce. Additionally, the British Medical Association’s (BMA) private practice committee estimates that 28,000 consultants undertake some private practice in the United Kingdom. In fact, relatively few consultants (an estimated 3,000), work solely in the private sector.
Overall, few sectors have seen the shocking consequences that Coronavirus can have to human life as those working within healthcare. Fatigued and displaying signs of distress, the BMJ (British Medical Journal) warn that healthcare workers are at increased risk of moral injury and mental health problems due to working at the forefront of the pandemic.
Sadly, the BMJ’s stark warning isn’t simply conjecture. Doctors and nurses have confessed to harbouring dark feelings since the outbreak began. A distressing combination of overwhelming compassion for patients dying from the virus, high levels of anxiety worrying about infecting their own families with the disease, coupled with sheer exhaustion from long shifts could potentially provide the perfect storm. As such, the wellbeing of all employees must be prioritised.
Away from Covid-19 issues, continued staffing shortages, an ageing workforce in private practice, and disparities in gender diversity only serve to add further complexities to an already testing HR conundrum. It is therefore vital that people feel they are genuinely being listened to in a safe and confidential environment.
In the following industry overview, we discuss each of the 9 factors that science has shown to determine success through people and explore these in the context of the unique challenges currently being faced by employers in the private acute healthcare sector.