Sunday, 10 June 2012

Come Fly with Me: England, USA, China, Cuba and Tesco does Social Work in Wales

British Airways sent an email yesterday advising me that I could turn my mobile phone into a boarding card to speed me on my way to America next week (there are other airlines that can also get you to the US). This sign of our obsession with creating a digital modernity, seemed a long way behind the approach used by my favorite airline, Emirates, who always have helpful staff (wonderfully uniformed) to meet me at the airport and speed me on my way and without there being a smart phone in sight.

The US was also in my thoughts for different reasons this week. The Guardian newspaper has been considering the differences in health care systems that share the English language as a common denominator. One of these recent articles looked at the US health care system. There were a number of interesting observations made. For example while most US hospitals are privately run, just over 70% are not-for profit organisations. The numbers of nurse practitioners continues to grow in response to cost pressures, and patient reaction to nurse practitioner is highly favourable.

Some thing’s are not so great. 85% of the population have health care insurance. However, most will have a $1000 excess on their policy, and 62% of all bankruptcies have medical debt cited as the cause. It also needs to be remembered that 15% of the US population will not have insurance. As there are some 313,698,000 million people living in the US, this means that some 50 million people are without health care cover.

The world population is 7.019 billion, so the US has just under 5% of the world’s population, compared to China 1,347,350,000 (19%), and of course there are 62,262,000 people living in the UK, (0.89%) and Cuba’s population is tiny in comparison, 11,247,925 (0.16%). I mention Cuba as the US has the highest infant mortality rate amongst all industrialised nations, and life expectancy is 42nd in the world, way after that found in Cuba! Cuban's can expect to live until they are 77 years old.

Cuba’s health care system is internationally known for the preventative and primary health care approaches to health service provision it has adopted. Health care is provided through an extensive system of community based polyclinics – each serving a population of 30,00050,000 people. Most of these polyclinics provide almost the same range and level of services that might more traditionally be found only in hospital settings, including emergency care, psychiatry, diagnostic radiography, and obstetrics. The aim is to be able to meet the biological, psychological and social needs of individuals, within their families and communities. Sounds like a familiar idea!

And back here in Britain, well Wales actually, the British Association of Social Workers reported that nearly 25% of Social Workers in Wales do not receive professional supervision. Those that do receive supervision are most likely to only get this on a once monthly basis. Like colleagues in health care, regular supervision is an absolute essential requirement for maintaining the quality and effectiveness of professional practice. Perhaps in another sign of a new world of professional practice, some respondents noted that they received their supervision mainly in Tescos, although this was over a coffee in the Cafe, and not a form of 'ready meal' type of supervision. But in this digital age, who knows, this does sound like a gap in the market. So when you get your first supervision app for your i-pads and smart phones, remember, you read about it here first.