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NHS in crisis - how can employers help?

August 23, 2022
The Lime Team

The past two years have pushed an already stretched NHS to its limits. Daily media reports feature longer waiting times, staff shortages, a reduction in NHS provisions and confusion over data reporting. Despite all the noise surrounding healthcare in this country one thing is clear- business as usual for the NHS is no longer an option.

At Lime, we believe that everyone is entitled to affordable and accessible healthcare. We exist to help employers support the health and wellbeing of their whole workforce, filling the widening gaps between NHS and private medical insurance so that all workers have access to good health and wellbeing provision. We’re great supporters of the NHS, but we’re also realists, only too aware that declining public trust, combined with the reality of patient backlogs and waiting times across the system from ambulance services right through to routine surgeries, is taking its toll not only on patients but also on NHS personnel.

In the near term, we’re likely to see more falling out of the ‘free at point of use’ category, meaning more people may be left without free access to even some of the most common services. As demand continues to outweigh resource within the NHS, innovative approaches are needed to support healthcare across the UK.

So, where and how will we access healthcare in the future?

We believe that employers could play an important role. Employees are increasingly demanding more flexibility, greater mental health support, and broader wellbeing provision. In response, employers should consider how they can support employees with simple and reliable healthcare provision that can help all employees bridge gaps in NHS provision.

With an increasing focus on DEI in the workforce, aligned to ESG strategies, healthcare benefits now need to fit the needs of all workers across all sectors. Business leaders are recognising this and questioning whether private medical insurance is fit for purpose in a modern workforce. Meeting employees’ healthcare needs with more flexible, interconnected health services will set employers apart from their peers, boosting the attraction and retention of staff, while demonstrating the duty of care that their people deserve.

With all of that in mind, and against the back drop of an NHS where we know it’s not feasible to expect support for every healthcare need from cradle to grave, employers should be aware of the impact that this is having on the lives of their employees. Lengthy waiting times even for routine appointments, diagnostics and non-acute treatment are causing unnecessary stress and anxiety, and those faced with limited options are often lower paid workers who cannot afford to pay for healthcare services.  Until now, our only alternative lay in complex private medical insurance, accessible to the few, much needed by them any. Finding cost-effective, workforce health solutions such as Lime OnCall that bridge the gaps in NHS provision to ensure everyone has access to vital healthcare services will help to maintain a happy and healthy workforce. By offering an affordable menu of modular services, employers can save time and expense, while protecting all workers, regardless of seniority. To get started, employers should understand which existing services are underutilised by staff and reassess how budgets can be better spent making benefits stretch across gaps in NHS provision, without increasing costs.

While our healthcare choices are changing, employers too have a choice - to act now to protect the whole of their workforce, from the CEO to the call centre.

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