Health services: cost-cutting or taking a more long-term perspective?
Health systems are in hardship for two reasons: an increased demand (due to a rise in poverty, unemployment, alcohol consumption, an ageing population), and cuts made to government health budgets due to the economic crisis.
The health community is concerned by the burden faced by services due to the increase in demand and the decrease in resources. Across Europe there has been a reduction in the number of nursesâ posts, while health workers have seen their pay cut and salaries frozen. Over a third of members of the European Federation of Nurses reported that these cuts have led to concerns about quality of care and patient safety.
While cost-cutting in health services may seem to be the most obvious choice to an accountant, to a health economist it makes little long-term sense.
Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, said to Euractiv: âThe financial crisis has shown the downside of global inter-dependence. The response must demonstrate the opposite. Many countries have decided to forge ahead, despite the crisis, with reforms that will make their health systems fit for purpose as they face major demographic and social changes. The UN is working hard on ensuring a more joined up response. I would argue that a truly global approach to economic recovery, which puts peoples' lives and livelihoods at its centre, will mean that we could emerge with systems that are stronger, more efficient and more equitable than those that are currently under such serious threatâ.