Briefing paper
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Towards a thriving healthcare workforce 702.84 KB

Healthcare workers are the cornerstone of health service delivery and quality of patient care. Valuing and protecting healthcare workers is critical for the safety of patients and for ensuring a thriving and sustainable workforce. If our health system is under resourced, it becomes unsafe for employees and consumers. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare worker wellbeing will not be realised for some time as the negative impacts are sustained (Stubbs et al. 2021). We should, however, act now to invest in ways to repair and protect wellbeing of healthcare workers by making work safe and sustainable.

Supporting and protecting healthcare workers’ safety and wellbeing is linked to provision of high quality, safe and sustainable healthcare (Hall et al. 2016). A shift in culture across the healthcare system to place promoting and protecting healthcare worker wellbeing as one of the core components of an effective and safe healthcare system is needed. This requires enabling policies to support the cultural change needed. This brief identifies and discusses four areas where policy action should be taken to protect healthcare worker safety and wellbeing now and into the future, including:

  1. supporting health service leaders to drive cultural change to prioritise wellbeing of staff;
  2. addressing imbalances between workforce supply and skill-mix demand;
  3. implementing a data monitoring system on work-related risk factors (psychosocial hazards); and
  4. facilitating access to evidence-based interventions to protect wellbeing.

Notwithstanding that healthcare worker wellbeing is a whole of workforce issue, this paper has been limited to considering healthcare workers employed in the context of hospital health services and actions for consideration by policy makers and health services.

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Deeble Institute Perspectives Brief 24