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What does the current NHS crisis mean for your workforce?

Monday October 08, 2018

Engagement | Communication | Wellness

Posted on: Monday October 08, 2018

Originally posted on Linkedin by Shane Cockram. 

We all love the NHS; our health service is one of the main reasons that we are so proud to call this country our home. As a British institution, that puts it significantly ahead of British history, the British armed forces and even the royal family themselves. Unfortunately, however, the NHS has been facing more than its fair share of problems this year.

The demand for general practice doctors has risen steadily over the last seven years. This has resulted in the average wait time for a GP appointment in the UK resting at around two weeks, which, in turn is causing increased pressure on hospitals and A&E departments.

This increased wait time has also had a knock-on effect for workplace productivity in the UK, with UK workers averaging 9.1 days off from their jobs each year due to sickness. Much of time off is due to minor illnesses which employees could receive treatment for quickly and easily could they see their GP before the two-week average.

However, far more harmful to staff productivity levels than simple absence is the growing rate of presenteeism. Presenteeism is when a member of staff is physically present in the workplace but is distracted or unproductive. This is most commonly due to illness, lack of motivation, or work overload.

Presenteeism due to illness can cause a large variety of work related issues. For example, an employee coming into the office with a bad cold or flu can put your other employee’s health at risk. Additionally, if they have fallen ill their quality of work is going to suffer, and other staff members would likely have to pick up the slack.

One major issue with presenteeism for companies is that staff are often paid the same amount in wages and benefits whether they are working at full capacity or not. If they are physically present and working their hours, but are unwell, disengaged or distracted, they just aren’t being as productive as they could be. So, the cost to the business remains the same while the output of work is reduced.

A recent survey from the CIPD showed that 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, this is a huge increase from a rate of only 26% in 2010. Due to this, the rise of presenteeism and the impact of staff working while ill has become the talk of many an HR office.

Despite the rise in presenteeism, only a minority of organisations are taking steps to address the issue. Only one quarter of respondents that had experienced presenteeism said their organisation had taken steps to discourage it over the last year, a figure that has almost halved since 2016.

But short of driving your employees to the GP yourself, how can you make a tangible difference to the rates of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace?

Our own research and that from our partner VideoDoc shows that providing employees with instant access to medical advice and healthcare can greatly reduce both absenteeism caused by attending traditional GP appointments and the presenteeism caused by delaying seeking medical advice. 

Digital health services are becoming more and more popular with consumers. Individual consumers are already paying private digital health providers between £20 - £60 per consultation as they prefer this to the traditional alternative of a 2 week wait for an in-surgery GP appointment.

Employers are extending their wellbeing benefits beyond an EAP and gym discounts, to include unlimited on demand GP appointments. OnDemand GP doesn’t just benefit employees, employers benefit too as an online doctor service can greatly reducing the absenteeism caused by attending traditional GP appointments and the presenteeism caused by the 2 week wait for an appointment.

OnDemand GP from Personal Group gives employers the ability to empower employees to get speedy health care advice and treatment at the click of a button. The service can increase workplace productivity; putting employee wellbeing at the heart of business. 

If you want to know more about how we can help you improve productivity levels in your company, please send me a LinkedIn request, drop an email to, or check out our OnDemand GP page.

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