The good news is that, despite the pressures of Covid, the NHS performed 6.1 million elective operations between January and December 2020 with 280,424 patients treated for cancer.* A sterling effort, for which everyone involved should be proud.
The bad news is the inevitable increase in patients waiting to start treatment which, according to the latest NHS England figures, stood at over 4.52 million in December 2020. Sadly, 224,205 patients were waiting more than a year for NHS treatment, an eye-watering 150-times increase on the year before.**
Despite the fantastic roll out of the Covid vaccinations across the UK, pressure on the NHS will remain for many months (if not years) to come, due to challenges including;
- The backlog of patients requiring non-Covid care
- Support required for thousands experiencing symptoms of long-Covid
- The increase in mental health support needed due to the impact of the pandemic
- The continuing roll out of the current vaccination programme
- New annual vaccination programmes to counter Covid-19 variants
With health and wellbeing high the agendas of many businesses, company owners and HR professionals are currently reviewing their strategies, to ensure the physical health and mental wellbeing of their employees is supported.
An employee benefits programme with a robust health and wellbeing element, will not only support the company’s best asset, its employees, the business itself will also benefit in the following ways;
- Reduced levels of absenteeism caused by poor physical and mental health
- Increased productivity – a happy, healthy workforce should be more engaged and productive
- Quality staff will be attracted to a company offering comprehensive health & wellbeing benefits
So which health and wellbeing benefits should you consider including in your employee benefits programme?
The first product likely to come to mind is private medical insurance (PMI).
Private medical insurance is designed to provide employees with rapid access to medical care from initial diagnosis to day-patient or in-patient treatment.
A good health insurer will provide video or telephone consultations with GPs, allowing employees to discuss their symptoms from the comfort of their own home. Employees are further supported by 24/7 helplines with nurses on hand to provide health advice.
PMI plans can be tailored allowing an employer to choose benefits appropriate to the company’s unique requirements and budget.
A Health Cash Plan is another benefit found in many employee benefit programmes in the UK. These plans are designed to allow employees to claim cash back for everyday healthcare costs including;
- Eye tests, prescribed glasses & contact lenses
- Dental check-ups and Hygienist fees
- Complementary and Alternative therapies
- Specialist consultations & Diagnostic tests
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are becoming very popular, as they help support and improve employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
An EAP comprises a confidential 24/7 helpline which employees can call to discuss their worries or concerns with qualified professionals. They can provide advice for many of life’s stressful events including;
- Relationship difficulties
- Health anxiety
- Remote working issues
- Financial concerns
- Childcare and Eldercare
- Furlough and redundancy
Counselling sessions can also be arranged by the EAP provider if deemed necessary.
It’s reassuring to know that there are products available to employers, which will not only benefit the health and wellbeing of their employees, but also the business, in terms of increased productivity, due to reduced absenteeism and improved employee engagement.
*NHS England 11-02-2021
**NHS England Statistical Press Notice NHS referral to treatment (RTT) waiting times data December 2020