NHS could learn from poorer countries, HEE chief says

The pandemic has provided opportunities to learn about how to deliver health care better, an audience heard last week

6th October 2021 about a 2 minute read
"I’d love for us to shift from a UK-centric way of thinking about workforce to one that is genuinely global.” Dr Navina Evans, CEO of Health Education England

The NHS has much to learn from poorer countries about how best to deliver healthcare more cheaply while improving quality, Navina Evans, the chief executive of Health Education England (HEE) has said.

Evans, who was speaking last week at the launch of the University College of London’s Global Business School for Health, said: “The way we deliver healthcare after this pandemic is going to be different. A lot of it [the pandemic] has been pretty awful, but there have also been opportunities to really learn and build on some really good work that has taken place in the last year and a half.”

Nurse-led primary and community care and frugal innovation in surgery were two of the areas where the NHS could learn from overseas, Evans argued. “In our hearts, we’ve always known that health is global, but [2020-21] has made this far more explicit,” she told the audience. “We in the NHS in England especially have so much to learn from our colleagues overseas, particularly on improving quality, while driving down cost.’

A global way of thinking about workforce

The NHS needed to take a more international approach to workforce, she added: “In HEE, we are determined to push that as a way forward as we think about the future workforce. I’d love for us to shift from a UK-centric way of thinking about workforce to one that is genuinely global.”

A collaboration between HEE and the Tropical Health and Education Trust is already underway so that the UK and developing countries can share expertise.

The workforce shortage is a serious problem for the NHS. Part of HEE’s role is to help fill the gap, which will include recruiting 50,000 new nurses by 2023. It has been commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to “review long-term strategic trends for the health and social care workforce”.

A report by the Health Foundation last week said that the NHS in England will need to recruit “an extra 488,000 health care staff to meet demand pressures and recover from the pandemic” over the next 10 years – a 40% increase in the workforce.