Carol Propper, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, took part in a Royal Economic Society webinar on 28 May
During the discussion, Professor Propper, President of the Royal Economic Society, explored the long-term impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on health and healthcare in the UK, making the case that there will be greater pressure on the government to increase its spending on the health service once the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is over.
One of the reasons for this, on the supply side of the service, will be concerns around staff safety throughout the pandemic, as well as pre-existing fears over Brexit, meaning both British-based individuals and those from elsewhere in the European Union (EU) are less likely to want to work for the NHS, she argued.
“We need to remember that the NHS competes in a worldwide labour market in which there is already a global nursing shortage.
"We already had Brexit concerns... and I think healthcare workers are going to think twice about coming to Britain when they could work in their own countries," she said, pointing to the UK's poor performance during the pandemic compared to small European countries, such as the Slovak Republic and Czech Republic.
Healthcare workers are going to think twice about coming to Britain when they could work in their own countries
Professor Propper also explored how issues on the demand side of the health service are likely to lead to more calls for increased NHS spending, including the backlog of health procedures that has built up during the pandemic, with treatments such as hip replacements being delayed, as well as more serious issues such as cancer patients going undiagnosed.
"There has been a drop in A&E visits [during the crisis], including by people who are having strokes or minor heart attacks. There is a stock of ill health. This [delay in treatment] will increase the severity for some patients, including cancer patients," she said.
Another contributing factor to increased demand for spending will be the long-term impact on mental health which, she argued, is also likely to continue rising significantly during the pandemic. You can read more about the toll of economic lockdown on mental and physical health in this article by Professor Propper.
This is just one of a number of talks Professor Propper has given on the impact of coronavirus, including a debate entitled "Assessing the Impact of COVID-19: From Mortality to Misery?” organised by the London School of Economics, a discussion entitled "War to Wellbeing" organised by cross-party organisation Compassion in Politics and another looking at wellbeing as the world emerges from lockdown.