One million people a week cannot get an appointment with a GP and the current waiting times are the longest on record. With the number of people working excessive hours rising by 15% in recent years, it’s understandable that many employees feel they simply don’t have the time to go to the doctors.
When your employees are able to get an appointment, they may then have to take time off work to attend. In fact, in a survey by the Telegraph in 2017, 24% admitted the most likely reason for having to take a day off work would be for a doctor’s appointment.
A 24/7 solution
Employers could help alleviate this issue by providing access to a 24/7 GP helpline. In a 2016 CIPD report looking into absence management, only 7% of organisations surveyed provided employees with access to private GP services, yet offering such a service could be very valuable to employees.
Many services also support 24/7 helplines with e-consultations, which provide employees access to face-to-face video consultations during normal surgery hours (usually 8.30am to 6.30pm). Given that we live in an age where many people are comfortable using video technology to communicate, it makes sense that it could be useful in the world of wellbeing.
So how do online doctor and GP helplines work?
Online doctor and GP helplines provide employees with convenient access to a GP, 24/7, from anywhere in the world. This means that employees don’t have to spend time trying to book an appointment or taking time off work to attend an appointment and instead able to get the advice they need at a time that’s convenient for them.
Appointments can also take place via a video call if employees would prefer a face–to-face consultation, or if it is needed to help with a diagnosis.
Possible uses of a GP via the helpline includes:
- Discussion and treatment for everyday illnesses such as allergies, flu, skin conditions, sickness and diarrhoea, back problems or sports injuries
- May provide a diagnosis, advice and a clear course of action for any serious illnesses
- Follow up appointments and referral to a specialist if you need further treatment
- Prescription services – many GP helplines also offer a private prescription service, sending your prescription via email, post or directly to a local pharmacy for collection
Benefits for employees
Employees will be able to query health concerns quickly and efficiently without the hassle of having to arrange and travel to an in-person appointment. This will allow them to manage their health and, according to an ACAS report, promoting good health helps workers “lead full and satisfying lives”. Providing employees with such a service will also help them to feel valued by the company too.
According to the Telegraph survey, 27% of employees would rather not let colleagues or a manager know about a health concern or a doctor appointment. With 24/7 helplines employees are able to speak to a doctor at a time that is convenient to them, which could be outside of working hours. This means they don’t even have to let their employers know that they are using the service.
Benefits for employers
First and foremost, helping employees manage their health and promoting wellbeing is an admirable goal for any business. Healthy employees are more likely to be productive, happy and feel appreciated by the business, which in turn will help with staff retention rates. Having a well workforce also means less time off; on average each UK employee takes 7.5 days sick per year costing UK businesses £902 per employee.
Getting early diagnosis and treatment is also crucial in avoiding long-term sickness. according to the Telegraph survey, 52% of employees delayed seeking medical advice as they were worried about taking time off. By providing access to a GP at a convenient time, employees can get the help they need before their health issues get worse.
Many healthcare providers offer this service in a straightforward per person flat fee. This means the employee can use the service however much they need and the cost remains the same. Providing care in this way is financially clear and cost-effective for the business.
The typical costs for an online or telephone consultation with a private GP costs £20 for 10 minutes or £40 for 20 minutes. But, with Benenden’s Healthcare for Business, which is only £9.10 per employee, per month, employees are able to access a GP 24/7 helpline as often as they need.
Our helplines are staffed with qualified GPs and employees can access them from anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day and 365 days a year. Our services also include access to a face-to-face eConsultation service if preferred, which can be scheduled between 8.30am–6.30pm Monday to Friday.
Psychological wellbeing helplines
It’s not just physical health concerns that affect employees. A statistic often quoted is that one in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year, therefore it’s important to support employees suffering with a mental health condition as well. Our Psychological Wellbeing Helpline is available with Healthcare for Business, once your employee has been a member for six months, and is staffed with qualified therapists who are available 24/7 to discuss a range of issues from bereavement to anxiety.
So, if you’re keen to boost staff morale and productivity while lowering absenteeism, it could be worth considering offering access to a 24/7 GP or psychological wellbeing helpline. Not only will you help your employees better manager their health, but you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, happier and more productive workforce in the process.
This content originally appeared on Benenden’s workplace hub where employers can find a range of related articles to help with their health and wellbeing strategy.