How do we solve a global health-worker shortage?

By 2030, there will be an 18 million person global shortage of health workers. It takes twelve years to train a hospital specialist. We haven’t got long to solve this problem.

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Dr Mark Britnell is the Chairman of Global Healthcare Practice at KPMG, for the last thirty years he has worked in healthcare; including stints as the CEO of University Hospitals Foundation Trust and General Manager of St Mary’s Hospital. Britnell argues that this is not a problem that can be solved linearly, and needs radical and urgent action.

Faced with a shortage of staff in the near future, what is the obvious solution? Spend money on more staff? In the report by KPMG, Britnell’s team argue that this is not effective, nor possible. At least, not only spending money on hiring more people.

Wealth isn’t a health problem. Health boosts wealth. As Hans Rosling, the data scientist, says ‘You’ve got to get healthy before you can get wealthy’. In an experiment conducted by Britnell’s team and independent economists from Cambridge University, they found that for every $1 invested in healthcare in the Caribbean, it equated to $6 in increased productivity. One key question his talk didn’t address was, does this create a net profit when you consider the cost of an ageing population.

Instead, Britnell says that it comes down to productivity. If we can make healthcare work smarter we can rapidly increase productivity and decrease the dependence on hiring new staff.

In Germany, the government pays and trains families and friends to care for their loved ones. This halved the number of hospital admissions. Automation will increase productivity, and those who lose their jobs can be retrained.

Hay Festival


Woodstock for the mind.

That’s how President Bill Clinton described the Hay Festival. The annual literary festival has been held in the Welsh town of Hay-On-Wye for the last three decades, bringing together the most powerful and influential minds in the world. Think TED, with more sheep and less WiFi.

How did a sea-slug expert capture Britain’s most notorious serial killer?

Where can you hide a 19-mile wide crater?

What is it like to be imprisoned in solitary confinement for 44 years?

These were just some of the questions asked and answered in tents amongst the Brecon Beacons. I travelled down from Edinburgh to spend the entire week at Hay. I attended over thirty talks throughout the week. Here were are other questions these talks asked and sometimes answered.

  1. How did a sea-slug expert capture Britain’s most notorious serial killer?
  2. How can calculus reveal hidden secrets?
  3. How do we fix the establishment?
  4. What makes humans unique?
  5. How to survive an intimate memoir?
  6. Can Britain come together again?
  7. How did women make the west rich?
  8. Why should we save the woodlands?
  9. How do you uncover family secrets?
  10. How does a comedian understand humanity?
  11. Where can you hide a 19-mile wide crater?
  12. How do you tell the history of illiterate sex-workers?
  13. How did a gay rugby referee come-out to his parents?
  14. How do we make education equal?
  15. How do we solve a global healthcare staff shortage?
  16. How do we make the NHS workforce future proof?
  17. How does the world think?
  18. What is it like to be imprisoned in solitary confinement for 44 years?
  19. Why are Japanese gardens so beautiful?
  20. What does a curriculum for 2070 look like?

Hay Festival Website:

They have events around the world. Check them out.