David Jones, Master’s candidate, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Supervised by Sara Allin, Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Stephan Heblich, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Project Title: The costs of healthcare workforce shortages

Project Summary: Workforce shortages are currently a significant constraint on the delivery of safe, high-quality, accessible healthcare services. Health systems internationally were experiencing staffing shortages before 2020, but the pandemic has materially exacerbated this issue. Workforce shortages have grown overall and within specific groups.

This study considers the following research question: What are the costs of workforce shortages since the pandemic began? Two cost categories are considered:

1)            Financial and non-financial costs incurred as a result of the current workforce shortages.

2)            Expenditures incurred in seeking to prevent and/or mitigate workforce shortages, including initiatives aimed at improving workforce resilience and recovery.

Focusing on the period since 2020, this study seeks to assess the cost of workforce shortages arising due to both the pandemic and wider underlying factors, given the potential difficulty in attributing impacts specifically to the pandemic.

The objectives are:

1)            To provide researchers and policymakers with a more in-depth understanding of the full range of costs relating to healthcare workforce shortages, including those pertaining to pandemic resilience and recovery.

2)            To provide decisionmakers with a more detailed understanding of costs, to enable higher quality judgments around workforce investments to support future workforce resilience and recovery.