Healthcare settings are inherently hazardous places, with very unpredictable and complex working environments. These hazards and risks not only result in a range of injuries and ill-health among workers but also jeopardise the safety of patients. The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the importance of ensuring that the healthcare that is provided is safe—for patients and health workers alike.
A sufficient, and capable, workforce, is the foundation of resilient systems. Policy makers need to focus now on how to build and support an appropriate workforce to respond to future shocks. This includes health workers beyond the hospital—including those in community, long-term, and primary care. The safety of both patients and health workers should be protected through appropriate mechanisms to ensure the safety of protective equipment and sufficient supplies, appropriate staffing levels, training and support at the workplace. These governance mechanisms are even more relevant when policy makers face trade-offs between health, safety and economic concerns.
This is part of series of health working papers from the OECD on the economics of patient safety. The preceding paper, focusing on Long-term care, can be found here.