Employers aren’t immune to the repercussions of NHS waiting lists, so how are they fighting back?

Emily Jones, Client Consulting Director at Broadstone, discusses the impact of extensive NHS waiting lists, underlying health conditions, and how employers are stepping into the healthcare gap.

Related topics:  Employee Benefits,  Features
Emily Jones | Client Consulting Director, Broadstone
16th April 2024
Emily Jones
"Ultimately, employers must step into the healthcare gap if they want to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. "
- Emily Jones, Client Consulting Director at Broadstone

It’s no secret that the NHS is struggling to meet the healthcare needs of our nation.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics suggest that even the official NHS England data, which continues to report unprecedented waiting times, could be underplaying the extent of the crisis.

READ MORE: 21% of all adults in the UK are waiting for medical care

However, the crux of this issue isn’t the length of waiting lists but deterioration in primary care – this is usually the first point of contact and a crucial gateway when it comes to treatment.

With most people struggling to access GPs, dental & optometry services, and take-up of NHS Health ‘MOT’ invitations declining, opportunities for early intervention are diminishing. Consequently, underlying health issues such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, are going undetected. This has led to advanced symptoms down the line, ultimately impacting day-to-day life, wellbeing, and productivity at work.

“This is an alarming trend, especially considering our ageing workforce.”

Complex health conditions require complex treatments, which take longer at a higher cost regardless of whether that expense is borne by the NHS, insurers, employers, or individuals.

For employers, maintaining a healthy workforce isn’t all that’s needed. Ill-health or injury that impacts family and loved ones can significantly reduce employee productivity, leading to long-term presenteeism, and absenteeism.

“Given employers aren’t immune to the repercussions of NHS waiting lists, how are they fighting back?”

More and more employers have stepped into the healthcare gap, with many now recognising the value of expanding their existing health & wellbeing benefits to tackle preventable issues. Rather than having to rely on the strained resources of the NHS, employees can now access private and digital GP services, dental and optometry benefits, health cash plans, and private mental health support.

These alternatives offer timely access to healthcare, alleviating the burden of NHS waiting lists and ensuring employees – and in some cases, their families – receive the support they need, when they need it.

“Private services can deliver specialist support tailored to the unique needs of young people, filling a vital gap in NHS provisions for families grappling with mental health challenges.”

By extending support to families, employers can demonstrate a holistic understanding of the public health crisis and how it impacts the workplace. This fosters a supportive work environment that recognises the duality of our personal and professional lives.

Ultimately, employers must step into the healthcare gap if they want to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. While this requires businesses to take an active role via Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), it’s an investment that will pay dividends down the line.

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