The journey to ‘the better normal’

David Newell, Gemserv’s Head of Health, reflects on the initial relief effort to deal with the impact of coronavirus and looks ahead to the recovery phase and eventually rebuilding for ‘the better normal’.

WHAT a difference a few weeks makes – since I last sat down to write a post for this blog, so much has changed in our lives: whether it’s getting to grips with home schooling or looking forward to going outside for simple exercise.

While much has changed, much has also stayed the same. During the initial weeks of the lockdown, my team and I have been totally committed to supporting our healthcare customers through the first phase of the pandemic – and that has meant getting the basics right.

Having the right procedures in place. Making sure systems don’t fail under the strain of extra workload. Looking out for each other and offering a kind word when we can.

Looking back over the past three months, the response to the coronavirus pandemic has shared many aspects with relief efforts following natural disasters. Protecting life by maintaining continuity of services has been at the heart of the health and care sectors’ reactions.

Gemserv’s role in this relief effort has included ensuring ongoing delivery of healthcare transformation by successfully switching to remote working and to have supported the development of Nightingale capacity in England.

After passing through “the new normal” of the recovery phase, there’s an opportunity lying ahead to create a “better normal”. As I look beyond the coming 12 months, it’s clear that we can no longer separate “health” from “wealth” – and that will take several forms.

In terms of longevity, the pandemic has shown – in microscopic detail – that the wider determinants of health are real. While the annual increase in life expectancy had already stopped, little did we know how profound the effect of the virus would be in relation to age and underlying health conditions.

The correlations between deprivation, pollution, and the impact of Covid-19 are becoming clearer as the scientific evidence builds, including this week’s data from the National Records of Scotland. It is against this backdrop that Gemserv has re-committed its support to and sponsorship of the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity as part of its long-term commitment to ensuring five more years’ healthy life expectancy by 2035.

In terms of wealth, the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and the ensuing efforts to protect life are starting to become clearer. The relief and recovery effort will cost billions of pounds; £8 billion a month in economic aid at the current run rate.

After previous economic shocks, there have been spikes in carbon dioxide output as industry sought to rebuild at any cost. It is clear that the right policy this time round should be to grasp the opportunity to accelerate the green economy by building upon the tangible impact that lockdown has had on improving our environment.

Sharing ideas and experiences lies at the very heart of building “the better normal”, not just “the new normal”. Gemserv will seek every opportunity to leverage our unique combination of skills – from health through electric vehicles to smart and green energy – to help take a step forward towards this.

The recovery phase

Our next step – perhaps for as long as the coming 12 months – is to re-double our efforts to help our healthcare customers recover and maintain services in the current environment.

Those efforts will take on different forms in different places. For example, we are working with integrated care systems to ensure they can restart services and deliver sustainable change by adopting the best aspects of the rapid implementation of different service models and adopt technology.

To deliver this effort, we’ve strengthened our partnership with management consultancy firm PPL, who we have worked with for many years as key partners in supporting the health and care transformation programme on the Isle of Man. This move fully supports a key theme in the UK Government’s recently published Covid-19 recovery plan, and I’ll outline the capability and how we can support integrated care systems in a future post on this blog.

We are also continuing to deliver both data protection and cyber security services, while also maintaining a strong voice on the balance between data protection and the challenges of managing future outbreaks of Covid-19 through solutions such as contact tracing.

Learning lessons

In a direct response to the challenges faced by the 1.5 million people being shielded for the foreseeable future, we are looking at opportunities to leverage our skills and understanding in the “smart home” and “smart energy” fields to change healthcare operating models. Gemserv has been at the heart of using digital technology in the energy sector and we’re now sharing those lessons across health and social care.

The coronavirus recovery plan lends weight to these efforts too, stating: “The Government will seek innovative operating models for the UK’s health and care settings, to strengthen them for the long term and make them safer for patients and staff in a world where Covid-19 continues to be a risk. For example, this might include using more tele-medicine and remote monitoring to give patients hospital-level care from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

We are working with another partner, engineering services firm TP Group, to apply machine learning from the defence industry to support rapid changes in our sectors’ supply chains to main services during the recovery. We also recently announced a partnership with technology provider Fortrus and the Countess of Chester hospital to rapidly access wider capacity and skills in the fields of digital transformation, cyber security, and information governance.

“The better normal”

After passing through “the new normal” of the recovery phase, there’s an opportunity lying ahead to create a “better normal”. As I look beyond the coming 12 months, it’s clear that we can no longer separate “health” from “wealth” – and that will take several forms.

In terms of longevity, the pandemic has shown – in microscopic detail – that the wider determinants of health are real. While the annual increase in life expectancy had already stopped, little did we know how profound the effect of the virus would be in relation to age and underlying health conditions.

The correlations between deprivation, pollution, and the impact of Covid-19 are becoming clearer as the scientific evidence builds, including this week’s data from the National Records of Scotland. It is against this backdrop that Gemserv has re-committed its support to and sponsorship of the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity as part of its long-term commitment to ensuring five more years’ healthy life expectancy by 2035.

In terms of wealth, the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and the ensuing efforts to protect life are starting to become clearer. The relief and recovery effort will cost billions of pounds; £8 billion a month in economic aid at the current run rate.

After previous economic shocks, there have been spikes in carbon dioxide output as industry sought to rebuild at any cost. It is clear that the right policy this time round should be to grasp the opportunity to accelerate the green economy by building upon the tangible impact that lockdown has had on improving our environment.

Sharing ideas and experiences lies at the very heart of building “the better normal”, not just “the new normal”. Gemserv will seek every opportunity to leverage our unique combination of skills – from health through electric vehicles to smart and green energy – to help take a step forward towards this.

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About the Authors

As with many organisations, we are adapting to working under difficult circumstances and working hard to continue supporting our customers.

Visit our Covid-19 Page to find out more about what we are doing and how we can help you to prepare for the ‘new normal’.

As with many organisations, we are adapting to working under difficult circumstances and working hard to continue supporting our customers.

Visit our Covid-19 Page to find out more about what we are doing and how we can help you to prepare for the ‘new normal’.