Five things we have learned from the Guardian’s review of the NHS
Have you been following the Guardian’s month-long investigative project, This is the NHS? The project aims to answer a question asked by many employers counting the growing cost of staff sickness - do we have the NHS we need?
I’ve been closely following the story as it unfolds. Here are five key take away points for employers striving to maintain a healthy workforce.
1. Frontline NHS staff perform heroic feats against all odds
It’s truly humbling to read firsthand accounts of the difference frontline staff make to patients’ lives. More so given the pressures and financial constraints they operate under. Whilst celebrating the daily achievements of NHS staff, employers are right to question whether the NHS can support employee health given lengthy waiting times and reduced healthcare services.
2. Employers are paying the price for a gaping funding deficit
The NHS funding crisis has become a regular news staple while ministers repeat claims about providing generous cash injections. In fact the UK receives one of the lowest levels of investment in Europe, ranking a lowly 13 out of 15 EU members. No spin can disguise the fact the UK is the sick man of Europe unable to meet the nation’s healthcare needs. Meanwhile employee absence currently costs employers an average of £554 per person, per year.
3. Access to healthcare is a problem that will get worse
A chronic shortage of GPs has resulted in lengthy waiting times for patients to access healthcare services. This means employees are spending more time off work sick than is necessary. With a further 30% of GPs planning to leave their jobs within the next five years, employers must find ways of speeding up employee access to healthcare or pay the price in lost working days.
4. Access to healthcare can be sped up through online care
Cutting edge surgeries such as the Haxby group are trying to cut patient waiting times by providing patients with access to an online doctor. This is a practice well established in the USA where 80% of employers provide employees with 24/7 access to an online doctor and a trend doctors anticipate will grown in the UK over the next 5 years.
5. Corporate well-being must refocus on prevention rather than cure
Alcohol abuse, obesity and poor physical and mental health place a massive strain on the NHS, and employers have a role to play reducing these. Employers need to implement a holistic approach to well-being focusing on preventative measures promoting good physical and mental health.
Insight from This is the NHS project should serve as a timely wake-up call for employers to review what they can do to support employee health. I look forward to sharing further ideas with you in two weeks’ time.
Rob Malvasi, Head of Business Development, Munroe Sutton.