14 December 2021

Employers will have crucial role to play in tackling NHS backlog and missed cancer diagnoses

The impact of the continuing Covid pandemic means that health and wellbeing support in 2022 will be hugely influenced by factors outside of the work environment.

Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection, makes his predictions for the coming year and explains how employers will play a crucial role:

The impact of missed cancer diagnoses will be seen

With an estimated 50,000 ‘missed’ cancer diagnoses1, health services, businesses and employees will be impacted as previously undetected cases come to the fore. It will be essential for employers to support people with increased screening, treatment and rehabilitation. Greater support will be required, and take-up will increase.

State provision will be limited

NHS waiting lists will continue to grow while hospitals battle the backlog of operations and procedures that were cancelled during the pandemic. These will be further affected by people coming forward with conditions that went undiagnosed while they chose to stay away from hospital settings. By the end of the year, NHS waiting lists are likely to exceed 8 million2.

Prevention will prevail

There will be a rise in employees and their employers looking for support for preventative health and wellbeing solutions. A more holistic approach will be taken with benefits promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles. More companies will offer apps to improve education around nutrition and fitness. Help will be made available with smoking cessation and alcohol management, as well as screening services being offered for early diagnosis and treatment, leading to better health outcomes.

Enhanced communication will be required

In line with preventative measures, communication of benefits and support services will need to ramp up. To be able to support employees in staying healthy and accessing early diagnosis and treatment options, employers will need to clearly and effectively communicate the range of health and wellbeing services available to employees, along with the advantages of lifestyle changes and the benefits of regular health screenings. Employers will have to find new ways to communicate these messages, in targeted and relevant ways, to reach and to engage with the hybrid workforce of today and tomorrow.

The rise of digital will continue

Health and wellbeing support will be accessed more online. As has been seen with virtual GP services and the emergence of benefits portals and health apps, employees and employers will become more comfortable with this new way of accessing support and more companies will adopt this method for more of their benefits.

Health and wellbeing support will be crucial to recruitment

The recruitment market is already hugely competitive and this will continue to be the case. Employee expectations of what an employer should provide have changed as a result of the pandemic, and comprehensive, engaging health and wellbeing programmes will become increasingly important in attracting and retaining talent.

Greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion

Employee benefits will need to support a culture of diversity and inclusion. Companies will need help in selecting the right benefits programmes to ensure they are inclusive and to help with recruiting and retaining a wide demographic of employees.

Consideration for the wider issues will be important

Benefits, and the business partners providing them, will need to meet an increasing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance.

Brett Hill concludes: “Employees will need to increasingly turn to their employers for health and wellbeing support in 2022, due to the limitations of state provision while the country recovers from the impact of Covid. The good news is that comprehensive support is available and that relatively simple options, like cancer screening, are extremely cost effective and can have a hugely positive impact.”


1. The impact of COVID-19 on cancer care - Macmillan Cancer Support
2. Could NHS waiting lists really reach 13 million? - Institute For Fiscal Studies - IFS