There’s an elephant in the room

The pandemic has been a global tragedy from which we should have learned. However, that is not the impression that the public has, given the current situation in hospitals and primary care centres. That is why it is more necessary than ever to take brave and efficient decisions, in order to guarantee the sustainability of healthcare in the medium to long term.

Before Covid, there was already pressure regarding the evolution of the costs due to the ageing of the population, the increase in chronicity and the incorporation of technology and scarcity of professionals. Now, as a result of the pandemic, we also have to add the challenge of facing the longest waiting lists in history, significant diagnostic delays, which are already putting the lives of many patients in danger, and primary healthcare that is completely overwhelmed by the lack of organisation and historical neglect, in spite of the fact that it is the key to the health and well-being of the public.

In my opinion, there are three keys to successfully dealing with the challenges of the healthcare sector in the medium to long term. Firstly, we have to invest more in human resources, and faced with a general lack of professionals in Spain, we need to better organise workforces for the future, starting with university places and Resident Medical Interns. In addition, we have to introduce flexibility and incentives, which allow for the implementation of a modern human resource policy.

Secondly, we must assume that technology is essential for both the present and future of healthcare, that telemedicine is here to stay, and that applications and devices that monitor patients remotely are of growing importance. The healthcare of the future requires us to take care of the citizen when they are healthy and heal them as soon as possible when they are sick.

Lastly, it is crucial to commit to improving the management of social healthcare systems, both public and private, and to strengthening the collaboration between both. This is because the public system needs the private. The role that healthcare organisations, such as the Ribera healthcare group, are playing with agreements with public administration and insurance providers, is key in order to make high quality and efficient healthcare available to public and private funders. The response to Covid would have been impossible without the collaboration of both,  even though some are still insisting on challenging views, as shown with the draft of the Law regarding Equity, Universality and Cohesion of the National Health System (NHS). There are those who do not want to see the elephant in the room.

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