Hospitals around the world have seen drastic changes during the Covid-19 outbreak, punctuated by complete closures aimed primarily at relieving pressure on health sectors and making room for capacity building, but, in the end, these abilities were not used, according to a report published by “The” magazine. The Economist”.
All seven Nightingale hospitals in Britain have closed after receiving only a small number of patients, and many US field hospitals have witnessed the same.
A study of the European experience, published in the journal Health Policy, found just one example of a hospital that saw more Covid patients than occupants of intensive care beds, in the Italian region of Lombardy, April 3, 2020.
But there are now reports of overcrowded hospitals in China as the country emerges from lockdown with a large wave of infections, but it’s too early to know if these are isolated examples or if they represent a larger systemic failure, according to the magazine’s report.
Outside of China, the Covid virus is no longer a top priority for people, however, and the report, which uses the latest official statistics and public data as well as individual hospitals, says health systems in developed countries are closer to collapse than at any time since the disease began to spread.
In Britain, the magazine described the National Health Service (NHS), the country’s public provider, as “in tatters”.
She said just before the outbreak, the wait time for someone with a medical condition that needed urgent but not immediate attention, a category that includes strokes and heart attacks, averaged 20. minutes to get an ambulance, but now they have been waiting for more than an hour and a half, indicating that the time between the admission decision and the arrival of the patient in the hospital ward has jumped dramatically after the pandemic.
In other countries, a survey of opinions on the quality of medical care, conducted by the company “Ipsos”, indicated that patients all over the world are in a “bad” situation, and confirmed that most of the population of G20 countries expressed dissatisfaction with medical care in 2021.
In Britain, satisfaction with health care fell by five percentage points, in Canada by ten points and in Italy by 12 points.
The magazine pointed out that hospitals in Italy, whose health sector was badly affected by Covid-19 injuries in early 2020, took as an example the data derived from the “Pope John XXIII” hospital of the town of Permago, which was the scene of horrific scenes three years ago in which images of Covid patients associated with ventilators spread.
She said hospital wait times rose slightly in 2020 and fell slightly in 2021, but jumped sharply in 2022, noting that patients seeking a Breast ultrasound image had to wait two years while officials in Emilia-Romagna province try. , which was hit hard by Corona, back to pre-pandemic levels.
In Australia, in the New South Wales region in particular, during the third quarter of 2022, 25% of patients had to wait more than half an hour for medical personnel to transfer them to the emergency room, an increase of 11% compared to the previous one. two years.
In Canada, wait times are at “record lows”, with about six months between a doctor’s notification that a patient is seeing a doctor and their receipt of medical care.
Even in the world’s wealthiest countries, which may be able to bear the costs, Switzerland has seen a decrease in the number of free beds in intensive care units, compared to the peak of the epidemic, and the Germany is facing the same thing, that is to say, an increase in the number of patients who have reduced the capacity of central care units.
In Singapore, patients had to wait about nine hours to receive medical care at regular clinics by the end of 2021, and in October 2022, this period was increased to 1 p.m.
As for the United States, the newspaper says the situation is better than most other countries and attributes that credit to the “huge sums of money that are pumped into medical care”, but he said his state was not good, noting that hospital capacity exceeded 80 percent for the first time.
And she mentioned that “even in the darkest days of the outbreak,” a few states reported high strain in children’s wards (i.e., 90% of beds were occupied), and in last November, 17 states reported that they were in the same situation, after the spread of germs in children in particular.
The magazine said: “The collapse in the quality of health care is contributing to a staggering increase in ‘additional deaths’, that is, deaths which may exceed the expected number each year.”
She said that for many rich countries, the year 2022 was worse than 2021, although the latter had seen several waves of the pandemic.
In Europe, monthly deaths have increased by around 10%, and Germany is in the depths of this crisis, with weekly deaths which have increased by 10% compared to normal since last September, and at the beginning of December, this percentage increased to 23%.
Who is to blame?
The magazine says much of the blame, whether at the local or regional level, lies with politicians, but it rectifies it with other factors that may relate to the common experience that countries have had during the pandemic. , and suggests that reaching a solution by the governments of the countries, in the short term, may be “impossible”.
She said health spending in most wealthy countries is now well below 10% of gross domestic product, down from less than 9% before the pandemic.
Of the 20 countries that revealed their data for 2021, 18 spent more per capita than ever before. And almost all spent a share of GDP more than in 2019.
Thus, he ruled out that the problem is in spending, and also ruled out another factor, which is the number of workers in the health sectors, noting that they have increased more than ever in almost all rich countries, and that the total employment rate for 2019 increased by 9% for 2021 compared to at least the year before the pandemic in six countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED).
And the magazine suggested that the fault lies with the efficiency of these workers, and not necessarily their numbers, noting that the actual performance in US hospitals and the ambulatory health care sector (ambulance services), which actually measures the amount of care provided, is only 3.9% higher than the pre-pandemic level, while output across the economy is 6.4% higher.
In Britain, elective care (i.e. pre-planned surgery) business is down slightly from where it was before the Covid waves. In Western Australia, the proportion of late elective surgeries rose from 11% to 24% in the two years to November.
In short, the magazine claims that hospital staff are “doing less with more numbers”, noting at the same time that the same is more reflected in a “wider economic phenomenon”, but he said that workers in the medical sector are facing more pressure.
A research paper presented by Professor Diane Coyle of the University of Cambridge highlights the impact of the fight against the Covid pandemic in Britain and said protocols for wearing and doffing protective clothing and the sterilization procedures that many countries still apply today are slowing down the processes of providing medical care, and the separation between people with COVID and other patients will reduce the number of beds available.
The magazine said many workers in the sector were feeling “unhappy” after three stressful years as a report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found signs of “burnout” among American doctors.
The magazine said that this exhaustion can be embodied in the difficulty of accomplishing certain things that were available before the epidemic spread, such as doctors who stay late to ensure that patient registration is in full swing, or their ability to treat other doctors’ patients.
At the same time, the newspaper indicates that the productivity of medical staff may not be the only reason for the situation in hospitals around the world, and clarifies that the increase in the number of patients in the periods that followed the lifting of sanitary isolation measures may be the reason, with the lack of mixing with some viruses and germs.Due to isolation for two years, today with people coming out of isolation, it has contributed to the spread of certain respiratory illnesses and the flu.
Additionally, many people avoided going to hospitals in 2020 and 2021 for fear of catching a Covid infection, and many hospitals closed their doors to non-corona patients.
The magazine concluded its report by recalling that the effects of failing health systems go beyond unnecessary deaths and that people can feel like their country is collapsing.
“If you live in a rich country and you get sick, you expect someone to help you,” she said. places.”
She added: “The good news is that the pandemic backlog will clear up. The outbreak of respiratory viruses in adults and children has likely peaked. Authorities have made progress in solving massive waiting lists But with an aging population, and now the constant threat, health care before the pandemic seemed perhaps to be emerging from a golden age.