There is an ongoing debate in the UK about healthcare provision. Funding problems within the NHS and the increasing difficulty for patients to secure appointments with consultants and doctors means that many employers are looking to the private sector to provide an alternative solution.
The benefits of private healthcare
Few can deny the excellence of the NHS, but pressures on the service are increasing. This is leading to problems for workers when trying to see a doctor or healthcare professional in a timely fashion. If a worker has a condition that can be monitored by technology, for example blood pressure kits from Brosch Direct, then they shouldn’t have to spend hours at a surgery hoping to see a healthcare professional.
Unfortunately any patient with an undiagnosed condition may have to wait a considerable time before seeing a doctor. This is the reason some employers offer a private healthcare option.
Working in tandem
Another benefit in offering private healthcare to employees is that they can access a range of treatments that aren’t readily accessible through the NHS. For example, a recent article on the website Employee benefits, talks about the importance of employee heath and wellbeing and how access to counselling and other private therapies can cut down on employee absenteeism and sickness rates.
Some local authorities in the UK offer their staff health screening services commissioned through a private company in order to detect any health problems at an early stage. Hertfordshire County Council launched a screening service in June 2015 as part of its overall wellbeing strategy.
The schemes on offer from private healthcare providers do vary. Some firms may sign up with BUPA or other insurance companies and offer their employees this option as part of their overall employee package. Other services may be offered on a voluntary basis. It’s also important that company HR departments measure the success and monitor feedback from private healthcare scheme users. While some employers recognize that a healthy and happy workforce can improve a company’s bottom line, four out of ten employers still don’t monitor the wellbeing of their staff.
A national debate
The provision of private healthcare can be seen in some sectors as a political hot potato, but the HR Magazine states in a recent issue that, ‘the benefit can enable employees to bypass the NHS and arrange private medical insurance at a time convenient to them.’ Convenience and access to a wider range of treatments are an advantage to employers and employees.
There is already a so called ‘postcode lottery’ in the UK regarding treatment on the NHS, whereas the best private healthcare policies do offer patients access to the best treatments and fastest consultant referrals across the whole country. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently joined the debate by stressing the need for improved competitiveness among private healthcare providers.
Value for money in terms of employee health and health provision should always be important and an article in The Daily Mail stresses the need for all sectors of the health industry to provide a fair and effective service.