UNO November 2013

The Welfare State, is it sustainable?


Experts say that we are facing one of the worst crises over the past decades. That is how citizens and we, entrepreneurs, feel it. Some of us have already suffered deep sector crises; others have suffered crises in certain markets or in a certain country; but none of them were as global and deep as our current crises.

The magnitude of the current crises is so big that for the first time we have been forced to plan structural and conceptual changes in our functioning models both in business and social ones.

One of –the most controversial and with more social importance change– is the debate about the Welfare State; specifically how to manage it and if it is sustainable and –until which point–.

The universality of social protection is an issue in which not a single step backward should be taken

In a situation like the current one it is normal that some people will question everything: the current model, the social structures, the organization systems, the rights, the obligations… But just a few offer solid options of how to maintain such a precious good, the social protection.

We are talking about a very important issue, modifying or reducing the Welfare State, which means creating a completely new model of society with new values and rules, very different from the current ones. The universality of social protection is an issue in which not a single step backward should be taken.

But it is not a simple debate. Everybody knows that the concept of Welfare State has changed over the time as well as the concepts of health or welfare. But the question is, should those things that we consider to be inalienable only depend on an economic situation? Is it necessary to take advantage of the current situation and open a serious and deep debate about what should and should not be provided by the Welfare State regardless the economic situation?

How many times have we heard that new generations will be the first generations to have a worse situation than their parents! This idea is already accepted, but what cannot be accepted is the fact that they will not enjoy the same Welfare State or social protection as previous generations.

Regarding health, which is one of the pillars of the Welfare State, innovations are every day faster and more efficient. New biomedical discovers appear every day. They do not only bring more health but also make it more accessible. Nevertheless, we have not been able to create the needed structures to assume and implement them in our society in a more efficient way. A clear example is the way genetic diseases are being treated. We cannot put barriers to this development since knowledge is global. Health companies are aware of this and are more and more international.

Deep changes need to be made in order to improve efficiency and keep enjoying the Universal and durable coverage

It is an unstoppable and inalienable process, which takes us back to the question about the Welfare State being sustainable.

In order to make it sustainable we need to modify the system and make deep changes which will make it more efficient and which are needed to keep on enjoying a universal and durable coverage.

There is nothing more antisocial–especially in such a situation– that maintaining inefficiencies in the systems. That is why we need to make all needed changes in order to keep the current status of social protection.

Health companies have a very important role in this scenario. When possible, we have to be next to the Administration –in order to– propose formulas of collaboration and management which will make the global system more efficient by eliminating wasted resources and designating the existing resources to what is really needed.

There are numerous examples of experiences which have improved the health models and we should learn of them. A country like the UK, which are not keen on changes, has introduced pioneering changes of public and private collaborations on the National Health Service and have achieved great results.

Our country should follow the same path, but for that we need leadership and clear guidelines for action as well as determination when implementing them as well as the capacity to communicate the changes and their benefits.


Albert Sumarroca
General Director of LABCO Iberia
Mr. Sumarroca was graduated in Biology by the University of Barcelona and he is General Director of LABCO Iberia, the Spanish subsidiary of LABCO Quality Diagnostics, European network of services and management of clinical and pathology laboratories where he is advisor. Amongst others, he was previously Chief Manager at General Lab SA. Mr. Sumarroca is also member of the Board of Directors of the Unió Catalana d’Hospitals and member of the Board of Directors at MC Mutual.

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