DHG CEO Graham Ewart
The expertise the private healthcare sector can offer the public health system is immense, particularly where digitalisation is concerned, can only serve to increase capacity, speed of service and ultimately provide better healthcare outcomes for all. Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), which specializes in the manufacture of medical devices, products and solutions for patients with limited mobility, shares his insights exclusively with THIIS…


The news recently that the NHS has slipped from the top of a global ranking of healthcare systems is an expected but stark warning for our world-leading provider.

The Commonwealth Fund, who compiled the analysis, attributed the NHS’s new positioning (from first to fourth) to the delays patients face in accessing care and treatment, the lack of investment in the service and poverty. What makes the findings even more difficult to swallow is that the UK was the second-worst performer of the 11 countries studied in the mental health category.

For over 73 years, the NHS has been the stalwart, showcasing the very best of how national healthcare should be provided. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled some particularly difficult truths on how the system must be improved, we can remain extremely proud to have a practice in place in our country that provides care for everyone, equally.

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As these results were released, I simultaneously read an in-depth feature in The Times by one national journalist who has switched her own healthcare to a private provider, concerned by the same growing waiting lists for non-emergency treatment.

Both these stories alarm me, but continue to motivate me, as they should any healthcare professional or supplier. As I’ve said countless times throughout this crisis, out of the very worst can come the very best, and now is the time to revive our NHS, and to use an overused phrase, build back better.

Reaping the benefits

The bare bones of the NHS showcase a winning, fantastic formula for healthcare, and we now have an excellent opportunity to amalgamate the learnings from both our public system and our private healthcare providers, to build the very best, cohesive service for all.

The expertise the private sector can offer the public health system is immense, and can only serve to increase capacity, speed of service and ultimately provide better healthcare outcomes for all.

We have seen this start to take place already, as the majority, if not all, GP surgeries adapted ways of working and switched to digitally-led services throughout the pandemic.

While there have been serious limitations to virtual appointments for emergency illness, complications and cancer diagnoses, scores of GP surgeries have reaped the benefits for non-emergency illnesses and advisory consultations, extending virtual appointments post-COVID to ensure rapid diagnoses, freeing up valuable in-person time for GPs to focus on serious ailments, time which was unavailable pre-pandemic.

The benefits of digitalisation were echoed by former health secretary Matt Hancock, who confirmed in April that, in the UK, 99 per cent of GP practices were offering video consultations, compared with less than 10 per cent before the pandemic.

In May, 73 per cent of respondents asked in a survey by healthtech company Visionable agreed that ‘You don’t always need to see a doctor in person to receive appropriate care’, while four in five saw virtual consultations as ‘vital to the future of the NHS’.

A further survey conducted in June for the BMA showed that 88 per cent of GPs want to see greater use of remote appointments continue into the future, demonstrating that both the general public, and those working within the field, think digitalisation of the sector is working well.

Adopting innovation

These technological systems have been in place for many years in some private healthcare facilities and it was only a matter of time before they were introduced on a wider scale. The shame comes on the realisation that it took a national emergency before these adoptions took place and benefits realised.

We need to drive change and a hunger to integrate innovation into the NHS system, and while I’m positive huge swathes of those working in the industry can name multiple immediate improvements, the decisions to adopt them can only come from the top.

It’s positive therefore that the NHS has now published a £75m tender for the provision of online and video consultations going forward.

This is only the start however, and we must now start looking beyond ‘what has always been’ to adopt innovation in order to drive forward our NHS and once again reclaim its place as the epitome of healthcare.

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https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Graham-Ewart-CEO-10.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Graham-Ewart-CEO-10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorAnalysis & InsightsNewsroomNHSOpinions & CommentsSector Newscovid,DHG,digitalisation,Graham Ewart,healthcare,NHS,Public HealthThe expertise the private healthcare sector can offer the public health system is immense, particularly where digitalisation is concerned, can only serve to increase capacity, speed of service and ultimately provide better healthcare outcomes for all. Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), which specializes in the manufacture...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals