In this blog our Programme Lead, Barbara Conneely, discusses the importance of global health and how it can help improve our own healthcare system.
The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably pushed the concept of ‘global health’ to the forefront of discussion within the NHS. But what is ‘global health’ exactly? There isn’t one widely accepted definition. So, from the outset, it might be useful to articulate our working definition, which is that global health is focused on improving health on a global scale and achieving health equity worldwide.
What this means for NHS staff and students in their everyday life can vary. In essence, global health activities can take many forms, from overseas placements, attending seminars, to being part of a buddying scheme. Global health activities are broadly those which provide opportunities for NHS staff and students to share learning, skills and understanding on a global scale.
But why should this matter to the NHS? As our partners, Health Education England (HEE), state: ‘global engagement is in our national interest’.
Participation in global health activities increases the diversity of experience for staff, the benefits of which can be felt both home and away. The understanding and experience of tropical diseases whilst on an overseas placement, for example, can become quickly relevant in the UK with increasingly fluid borders thanks to the ease (up until recently, of course) of international travel. The experience of other cultures gained from international placements can improve and inform patient experience here.
Not to mention how working within the healthcare systems of low- and middle-income countries gives our NHS staff experience in delivering health services in low resource settings. The pandemic has highlighted just how vital such skills are, and will continue to be, for successful delivery of care within the NHS.
Research conducted by THET* into the benefits of international volunteering programs suggests that there’s a great personal benefit from taking part too, including self-reported improvements in performance across several areas such as better leadership skills and greater interpersonal skills. 74% of respondents said they felt they’d learnt new skills and techniques that they had brought back to the UK to improve health service delivery.
We are proud to be currently working in partnership with HEE to deliver a national Global Health Survey that will evaluate the attitude and interest of the current and future NHS workforce towards global health activities. We’ve worked together to produce a series of surveys targeting secondary care NHS staff and students, as well as secondary healthcare providers and higher education institutions (HEIs), to gain a valuable overview of attitudes towards and interest in global health activities.
Ross Goldstone, Research & Development Officer at HEE Global Health Partnerships, explains: “HEE is delighted to collaborate with YHAHSN on the Global Health Survey, which will underpin our strategy for NHS staff moving forward. The survey will allow us to understand current engagement in global health activities among staff and students and the types of activities desire in the future”.
We aim to get a sufficiently broad range of responses from across all NHS regions to collate a body of evidence that will allow HEE to better develop their offer of global health activities for NHS employees going forward. In doing so, we believe this project will highlight where we can prioritise global health and make it meaningful for colleagues both across the Yorkshire & Humber region and nationally.
In this spirit, we kindly ask that all secondary care providers and secondary care NHS employees and students complete the surveys below. Doing so will not only assist HEE in developing global learning opportunities for NHS employees, but may also win you one of four £50 vouchers.
For NHS staff and students, CLICK HERE to complete the survey.
For representatives of secondary care provider organisations and higher education institutions, please CLICK HERE
*THET: International Health Partnerships: How does the NHS benefit? By Holly Louise Feb 2019.