With life in the UK beginning to unlock, many employees will be keen to re-book routine check-ups and medical procedures that were cancelled during the peak of the coronavirus crisis. There is, however, a huge backlog of appointments and GPs are still under an enormous strain. Indeed, with Macmillan estimating that around 50,000 people are missing a cancer diagnosis, Towergate Health & Protection is guiding employers through the options for providing healthcare and screening, which may enable employees to be seen sooner.

Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection, explains: “Employers need to look at the latest enhancements to health and wellbeing propositions. Many of these now allow screening and employees may be able to see a medical professional sooner than would otherwise be possible.”

The issue for GPs is not just in managing the backlog but in seeing new patients at the same time. Covid has put untold strain on the UK healthcare system: Macmillan’s analysis suggests it would take 20 months to work through the backlog alone if activity were increased and sustained at 10% above pre-pandemic levels.

Towergate Health & Protection is making employers aware of the options for providing care and support:

Health screenings

Regular health screenings, especially for those in higher-risk age groups, can play an important role in helping to detect the early signs of medical conditions like cancer, helping to ensure people are treated early and effectively.

Many routine health screenings can now be done remotely using home test kits. Employers may choose to pay for age-appropriate health screenings on behalf of their employees to help ensure medical conditions are identified and treated early. Alternatively, employers can signpost the availability of health screenings to employees who may wish to pay for a health screening themselves, allowing employees to benefit from significant discounts from the usual cost.

GP services

Worried about the safety of an in-person visit to their local GP in light of Covid, many employees have refrained from seeing their doctor about important medical issues. Many GPs are only offering telephone appointments in the first instance and, as GP practices play their part in supporting the roll out of the UK’s vaccination programme, waiting times for appointment times can be lengthy.

Remote GP services can offer employees 24/7 access to a GP, where they can be referred and prescribed medication just like an in-house practice. These services are often available to employees and their household dependants. Appointments are booked easily and conveniently online, often via an app, and consultations take place by video or phone and are often available within 24 hours. This type of service provides a lifeline for employees who may be worried about their health or the health of their family. This can be available as part of group private medical insurance, via group risk products or on a standalone basis.

Routine cancer screenings

While most private medical insurance plans do not provide cover for routine cancer screenings, some health plans include an annual benefit allowance for wellbeing services, including a range of preventative cancer checks. Employers would be wise to review their healthcare policies with an expert to make sure they are in receipt of the most appropriate cover for their workforce.

Brett Hill added: “The message is that employers are in a position to be able to help their employees with preventative care and early diagnosis. There are a variety of options available, which do not have to be expensive, and could prove to be invaluable.”