New research from AIG Life Limited shows workers are struggling to fit medical appointments around the demands of their job despite the best efforts of employers and the NHS.
Its study found more than half (52%) have had to cancel or change medical appointments because of work commitments while nearly six out of 10 (59%) say they feel guilty about attending appointments during work as colleagues have to cover for them.
NHS data shows more than 15 million appointments with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff – around one in 20 of the total 307 million sessions – are wasted each year as people don’t turn up or cancel at the last minute.
Employees admit it’s not their employers’ fault – 72% say their bosses are flexible about time off for appointments – and two out of five workers (39%) concede their GP offers times outside of normal working hours.
AIG Life’s research among more than 2,000 employees and self-employed workers found just two out of five (41%) find it easy to take time off work so they can get to medical appointments.
Nearly half (45%) of those questioned said they regularly work a long way from their GP’s surgery so find it nearly impossible to get there during the working day.
The struggle millions face with arranging medical appointments around work is driving interest in video consultations – nearly two out of three (64%) say getting advice via video on their phone or a tablet would be easier.
AIG Life has launched its Smart Health online health app to give new and existing customers unlimited, 24-hour access to health services as part of their protection insurance, at no extra cost and with customers able to speak to the same GP if they want.
Alison Esson, Propositions Manager at AIG Life, commented: “The cost of cancelled appointments is a drain on the NHS budget and causes real problems for GPs and their staff, despite efforts to be flexible. Yet we’re all so diligent about our jobs that people find it’s difficult to take time out of the working day to attend appointments because they worry about their workload and putting pressure on others.
“Coordinating busy lives with work pressure and appointment times can be a tough juggling act, with the inevitable risk that sometimes things get dropped. But technology can ease the strain. Video consultations with a GP, for example, can be a solution for many of us, which is where services such as Smart Health can be a very valuable additional service for customers.”
Insurance Edge Comment;
As the UK population continues to grow and that explosive growth becomes increasingly concentrated in major cities where the best jobs can be found, the pressure on GPs will increase. Many medical professionals now find it more lucrative to freelance at different locations, rather than stay put in one practice. Add that up and it equals longer waiting times, a creaking appointments system and minor ailments sometimes becoming more serious problems.
The solution has to be virtual GP services, plus apps that offer rewards for exercise, or lifestyle/diet changes – and bigger employers are in a good position to offer this very real benefit to their workforce.
In many respects, it is more valuable than air hockey games rooms, free bagels on Fridays or similar millennial nonsense, although good health and immediate back-up – for free – is a curiously hard sell to many aged under 35.
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