(Originally published in May 2012 on my old website, http://www.real-Dublin.ie, see it on the Web Archive here, uploaded to OisinOhAlmhain.ie in June 2019, I subsequently did an MA thesis on saving money by hospitals employing a medication safety pharmacist, which you can find here.
This academic paper here is one of many that show that if you employ more pharmacists in a hospital, you can save more than what you spend employing them. The same can be true of other health professionals and not only in hospitals.
The concept is similar to the old saying “a stitch in time saves nine.” If you have a well run service then you can make sure problems are sorted out before they become serious. In the case of the pharmacists, they reviewed everyones medications, cutting down on possible future problems and side effects, which meant that they were able to prevent future visits to hospital.
Having to few nurses or junior doctors in a hospital can contribute to staff member stress levels, and, on a simpler level, things like necessary blood tests, not being done due to a lack of time. While again, this may save money, it is probably contributing to people having to stay longer in hospital, or being more unwell, which in turn costs more.
Even the broadsides we see in the press on administrative staff in the health service miss a few vital points. Would you like your nurse to be spending hours every day doing essential paperwork, or would you prefer that they were looking after patients? Perhaps we could have less meetings, “frameworks,” reports etc., and more evidence based research and motivation though.
We need to spend more money on safety. We definitely need to get more out of our health service, and our health professionals, but the way to do it is not to slice money away, but to spend more. We will benefit in the long and short term.