The challenges facing healthcare across the world

Healthcare is founded on compassion and our healthcare systems are crucibles of compassion in human society. As the largest workforce internationally paid and unpaid health and care workers are vital in the movement to develop and strengthen compassion across the world. Healthcare and community-based care can also offer a model for compassionate leadership. Our experts in health and healthcare are working internationally to make this happen.

Workforce shortage

Healthcare systems around the world are facing enormous challenges that necessitate transformations in how we ensure the health, happiness and wellbeing of our populations. Among the key challenges is an international workforce crisis in health and social care. Well before the Covid-19 pandemic, many health and social care systems around the world were facing a staffing crisis with shortages of key healthcare professionals and global competition for staff.  

Staff wellbeing

High levels of vacancies, sickness absence, staff turnover and stress are typical with damaging consequences for staff health, patient/service user safety, quality of care and financial performance. The persisting workforce crisis presents an enduring and enormous leadership challenge in health and care.  


Chronic excessive workload is the key factor influencing stress, staff shortages, absenteeism, turnover, long working hours, and moral distress. Among many staff working in health and social care globally, work demands consistently exceed their resources to meet those demands. Staff become exhausted and chronic excessive workloads become normalised. Working additional hours is highly associated with levels of stress and workplace injury. 

Moral injury

Health and social care staff are at risk of ‘moral distress’ in situations where they are prevented from providing the quality of care that they feel they should be providing, due to excessive workload or a lack of resources. Moral distress is associated with higher staff turnover, burnout and dissatisfaction. Health and social care workers embody the universal human value of compassion.

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