The term "24-hour economy" refers to an economic system where businesses operate around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This concept emerged as a response to the growing demand for goods and services outside traditional working hours. It reflects a shift in societal patterns and consumer behaviour, where people expect access to products and services at any time that suits them.
The 24-hour economy encompasses various industries, including retail, hospitality, healthcare, transportation, and entertainment. It is driven by changing lifestyles, globalisation, technological advancements, and the increasing need for convenience.
One of the key drivers of the 24-hour economy is consumer demand. With the rise of online shopping and flexible working hours, people can now shop, work, and access services anytime or night. This has led businesses to adapt their operations to cater to these changing consumer preferences. For example, many retail stores now offer extended opening hours or operate 24/7 to meet the needs of their customers.
As a health professional in the UK, I would like to highlight the potential benefits of a 24-hour economy for Ghanaians. While my perspective may differ from that of a local healthcare professional in Ghana, it is believed that certain advantages can be observed across countries regarding a more extended operating economy.
- Improved Access to Healthcare Services:
A 24-hour economy can ensure that healthcare services are available round the clock, allowing Ghanaians to access medical care anytime. This is particularly significant for emergencies and urgent medical situations where immediate attention can be lifesaving. It also reduces the burden on healthcare facilities during peak hours, leading to shorter waiting times and improved patient outcomes.
2. Increased Employment Opportunities:
A 24-hour economy requires a workforce outside traditional working hours. Expanding working hours can create new job opportunities for Ghanaians, especially in the healthcare sector. More healthcare professionals will be needed to staff hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities during extended hours. This can lead to reduced unemployment rates and improved economic stability for individuals and the country.
3. Enhanced Economic Growth:
Furthermore, the 24-hour economy can contribute to economic growth by increasing productivity and revenue generation. Extended working hours allow businesses to operate continuously, leading to increased production and service delivery. This, in turn, stimulates economic growth, attracts foreign investment, and creates a more prosperous environment for Ghanaians. A thriving economy can support the development of robust healthcare infrastructure, improve the quality of medical services, and attract skilled healthcare professionals.
4. Greater Convenience for the Public:
The 24-hour economy provides convenience for Ghanaians by offering more flexible working hours and services. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who work irregular shifts, have family responsibilities, or require medical attention during non-traditional hours. Access to healthcare, pharmacies, and other essential services outside regular working hours ensures that individuals can meet their needs without disrupting their daily lives. This convenience can improve healthcare outcomes as individuals are more likely to seek timely medical assistance.
5. Enhanced Emergency Response:
A 24-hour economy can significantly improve emergency response times. With healthcare professionals available around the clock, emergency medical services can be promptly dispatched to health institutions, ensuring timely arrival at the scene of any medical emergency. This can be crucial when immediate medical intervention can affect the outcome. Additionally, a 24-hour economy can support the availability of emergency departments and specialised units, enabling comprehensive care for critical patients at any time.
6. Support for Shift Workers and Vulnerable Populations:
More so, the 24-hour economy acknowledges the needs of individuals who work night shifts or irregular hours, such as healthcare workers, security personnel, and transportation employees. These workers often face challenges in accessing healthcare services during traditional working hours. By extending operating hours, healthcare facilities will have the capacity to cater to the needs of shift workers, ensuring their health and well-being are not compromised. Moreover, vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and individuals with chronic health conditions, can also benefit from increased access to healthcare services throughout the day
To conclude, it is crucial to note that implementing a 24-hour economy requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including workforce management, infrastructure development, and ensuring the well-being of employees. Collaboration between the government, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders is crucial to ensure the successful establishment of a 24-hour economy that benefits the population as a whole.
By Rebecca Anoon BSc
Honours Children Nursing