14 September 2020

Health and wellbeing at risk if employers don’t encourage staff to utilise benefits

Avoiding medical institutions1 for fear of contracting Covid-19 is resulting in critical illnesses going undiagnosed – representing a ticking time bomb for employee health. Delayed diagnosis can have a serious knock-on effect: employees may require more prolonged or invasive treatment; and businesses may see staff absence increase. Businesses and employees alike need to understand the significant measures taken to make healthcare safer during the pandemic, and the important role of benefits in supporting health and wellbeing.

Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection says: “We understand that employers need to be reassured before they can encourage staff to engage in health and wellbeing benefits again. As clinical settings gradually reopen, employees will experience changes put in place to reduce the risk of infection. From encouraging self-isolation before surgery to creating Covid-free treatment areas, a multitude of measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of infection.

“Whilst Covid-19 has paused many elements of life, sadly, the same can’t be said for critical illness – so it’s vital that employees continue to get any health worries checked out. Businesses can take confidence that healthcare processes have been transformed in the wake of the pandemic, and should encourage staff to utilise wellbeing benefits again. For instance, it’s important to remind employees about what exactly is included within wellbeing benefits, such as rapid access to diagnostics and treatment, as this can encourage employees to address health concerns that were consciously shelved during lockdown.”

Tackling concerns early on

Whilst people have given healthcare services a wide-berth to allow professionals to focus on the crisis, it’s important that health concerns are seen to promptly – to avoid more complex medical intervention being required. For example, as fewer people are going to their GP, it’s estimated that 2,300 cancer cases are going undiagnosed each week - a number that looks set to increase the longer the pandemic continues.2  The earlier the intervention the better, as any treatment required may be less invasive, which not only benefits the employee, but also puts less pressure on medical institutions in the long run too. With standard procedures gradually resuming, but safety still paramount, it’s important for staff to investigate a health concern sooner rather than later. 

Capitalise on renewed interest in PMI

With the number of people interested in private healthcare and treatment nearly doubling since the start of the pandemic,3 employers can build upon this renewed engagement by reminding them what wellbeing benefits are available and what exactly they entail. Private medical insurance (PMI), for example, can include screenings, diagnostics and treatment - so if employees put their health on the back-burner during the pandemic, they can get back on top of it again. With NHS waiting lists anticipated to more than double by Christmas - with 4.4 million in England waiting to undergo a procedure such as a hernia repair, cataract removal or hip or knee replacement before the pandemic, rising to 9.8 million by the end of the year4 - PMI can not only support employees with accessing diagnostics and treatment quickly, but help alleviate pressure with waiting lists too. Providing employees with details about what their wellbeing benefits include and reminding them of the importance of early intervention, can encourage staff to seek action with a health concern and result in a more positive outcome.

Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection says: “Whilst many employees steered clear of healthcare institutions during lockdown, it’s important that health isn’t ignored, as conditions can deteriorate. Businesses and employees alike need to be aware of the measures put in place to reduce the risk of infection and to utilise wellbeing benefits to stay on top of health. With the pandemic impacting diagnosis and treatment rates, wellbeing benefits can help employees access support promptly – alleviating some pressure from the NHS too. Encouraging staff to seek medical attention, where they may have wanted to avoid medical institutions during lockdown – can help nip concerns in the bud, and result in a better outcome all round.”


1. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/understanding-and-managing-the-hidden-health-crisis-of-covid-19-in-europe
2. https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2020/04/21/how-coronavirus-is-impacting-cancer-services-in-the-uk/ 

3. https://www.covermagazine.co.uk/news/4017335/people-considering-private-healthcare-nearly-doubles 
4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jun/10/nhs-hospital-waiting-lists-could-hit-10-million-in-england-this-year