Examples of healthcare policies
In the previous steps, we examined various definitions of healthcare policy. Here, we’ll go one step further by exploring two examples of healthcare policies.
We’ll look at an example of a developing nation, Brazil, and a developed nation, the United Kingdom. The statistics below provide insight into the wider context in which the healthcare systems of the respective countries are operating.
|Life expectancy at birth (male / female) in 2016||71/79 (WHO 2020a)||80/83 (WHO 2020b)|
|Expenditure on health per capita ($) in 2014||1,318 (WHO 2020a)||33,372 (WHO 2020b)|
|Total expenditure on health, % GDP in 2014||8.3 (WHO 2020a)||9.12 (WHO 2020b)|
|Number of physicians per 10,000 population||21.53 (2018) (WHO 2020c)||28.13 (2017) (WHO 2020c)|
The NHS England Complaints Policy
The NHS England Complaints Policy (NHS England 2020) is a national policy published in 2017 by the NHS England Customer Contact Centre. It is concerned with providing information related to safeguarding patients, complainants and staff.
It aims to provide universal access to high quality care and improve healthcare service delivery by ensuring patients have access to seek advice, provide feedback, or make a complaint about services commissioned or policies implemented. It defines the scope, boundaries, processes involved, and exceptions to the policy.
This policy emphasises that complaints are vital to inform and transform practices within any organisation. By encouraging patients and their relatives to make complaints when necessary, area of failures can be managed properly. Such a policy ensures a continuous improvement of healthcare service delivery.
We’ll now examine a healthcare policy adopted in Brazil, a country with a population of over 200 million inhabitants. Adopting UHC, the Sustainable Development Goal 3.8 proposed by WHO, Brazil proposes a unified healthcare system which aims to provide free healthcare delivery to the entirety of its population (United Nations 2020).
So far, Brazil has made remarkable progress in improving vaccination coverage, maternal and child health, care for patients with HIV/AIDS, and provision of complex procedures (Massuda et al. 2018). However, areas of poor progress have been identified, one of which was limited access to oral health services especially among the lower socioeconomic group of the population.
Therefore, to eliminate this obstacle of inequity in health, the government launched the Smiling Brazil project (Brasil Sorridente). This policy incorporates dentistry into the existing unified health system, transforming the practice from an individualistic one, to an integrated, polyhierarchical system.
This was achieved through the institutionalisation of care and the improvement of ‘installed capacity’, in which more and more dentists and oral health technicians were employed and deployed to meet the needs of the population across all levels of care. In addition, more facilities were built and equipped across the country while mobile clinics, secondary care centres and referral pathways were strengthened.
An evaluation of the policy after 10 years of its implementation showed remarkable progress in improving the oral health of the population (Pucca et al. 2013).
Massuda, A., Hone, T., Leles, F., de Castro, M. & Atun, R. (2018). The Brazilian health system at crossroads: progress, crisis and resilience. BMJ Global Health, 3(4). https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/permalink/f/1ea4mrv/TN_bmj_journals10.1136/bmjgh-2018-000829
NHS England. (2020). NHS England Complaints Policy. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/nhse-complaints-policy-june-2017.pdf
Pucca, G., Gabriel, M., de Araujo, M., &de Almeida, F. (2015). Ten Years Of A National Oral Health Policy In Brazil. _ Journal Of Dental Research, 94_(10), 1333-1337. https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/permalink/f/1ea4mrv/TN_sage_s10_1177_0022034515599979
United Nations. (2020). Sustainable Development Goals. 3. Good Health and Wellbeing. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
World Health Organization (2020a) Brazil [online] available from https://www.who.int/countries/bra/en/ [11 May 2020]
World Health Organization. (2020b). United Kingdom. https://www.who.int/countries/gbr/en/
World Health Organization. (2020c). Density of Physicians (Total Number per 1000 Population, Latest Available Year. https://www.who.int/gho/health_workforce/physicians_density/en/
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