2024: Our Predictions for the Healthcare Sector
As we move into 2024, the healthcare sector is poised for a transformative journey, marked by technological innovations, evolving patient-centric approaches, and a focus on hiring and staff retention. Aemilia Lovatt, Associate Partner in our Healthcare Practice, discusses her thoughts on the trends, challenges and opportunities she predicts will shape the landscape of the healthcare sector across NHS and private organisations in the coming year.
Private healthcare has continued to enjoy growth and opportunity in 2023 buoyed by the same three underlying themes set to continue into 2024:
- A struggling NHS
- An increasing older population
- A younger generation who are looking for more proactive healthcare solutions
We saw a continuation of technology development across all sub-sectors often from new entrants to the market.
Looking forward, private healthcare continues to be strong in domestic self-pay, PMI, and NHS funded markets. Although expectations of growth in domestic self-pay are still strong; this appears to be decelerating and the international market continues to be weak. NHS activity is still seen as a key area for the sector with a marked increase in positivity from last year and reflects the pressures in the NHS and the focus on utilisation of the private, along with the emphasis on patient choice. There is a strong desire from private providers that they want to play their part in delivering NHS funded care to reduce the waiting lists in elective, diagnostic and community care, though this is hampered by a perception that the NHS is still not fully utilising the capacity and capability of the sector and has potentially deteriorated from 2023. However, this may be due to the new integrated care systems structure, as they start to settle and evolve hopefully this will resolve itself quickly. Of course we are potentially also moving towards a change in government but currently the view is that both the Government and the Opposition have broadly positive attitudes to the private healthcare sector.
The NHS in 2024
2023 has been a turbulent year in the NHS for recruitment with strikes, funding challenges and increasing pressures on performance and therefore on staff. We have seen organisation structure changes and headcount cuts of up to 40% at national and regional levels, which are ongoing into 2024, and these have added to the turbulence.
However, our healthcare team in Berwick Partners are optimistic for what 2024 brings. As the new structures are embedded it will lead to positive change and new opportunities in the NHS and a need for visionary, creative thinking and collaborative minded senior leaders. Whilst there are ongoing challenges in attracting staff to the NHS at all levels, to many of the 1.27 million people working in the sector it is still seen as a rewarding and worthwhile career. This means excellent employee engagement is incredibly important to improve staff retention at the crucial five-year service mark.
Of course, the greatest challenge for all healthcare providers – for both the NHS and the independent sector – remains how to tackle the huge workforce shortages facing the country, and indeed wider world. There is no simple solution to this and the private sector is playing its part in training and development of clinical professionals.
If you wish to further discuss any of the topics covered in this article or have a conversation about increasing the leadership capability within your healthcare organisation then please contact Aemilia Lovatt.