Some of the biggest changes in the NHS’s history have taken place in 2013, raising questions around the future of treatment and care provision in the UK and causing a shift in how people will access healthcare in the future.
From rising dental price bands, to growing waiting lists for surgical procedures, the signs of change are already clear. As the NHS takes a step closer to its deadline of saving £20 billion by 2015, further shifts in service provision are likely to become apparent.
So what affect, if any, will these changes have on the health of the nation’s businesses? As the health service strives to make efficiency savings, services classed as ‘non-urgent’ are likely to be increasingly rationed as the NHS focuses its resources to the areas of most immediate need – cancer and heart treatment.
For employers, this could spell an increase in staff sickness absence, as employees requiring ‘non-urgent’ procedures face a longer wait for treatment.
Paul Shires, Executive Director at Westfield Health, said: “The NHS is undergoing a period of immense change and, as we move closer to the savings deadline, some of the biggest shifts in service provision could be yet to come.
“People may need to become more accustomed to self-funding healthcare if they want to access treatment quickly and return to work, helping to ease some of the growing pressures facing the NHS, especially with public health problems predicted to rise in coming years.”
Paul added: “A rise in health problems, both physical and mental, would certainly result in more staff requiring time off work and, at a time when long-term sickness absence is already costing the UK’s private sector an estimated £3.1 billion every year*, employers will inevitably need to take more responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their staff.”
In 2012, Westfield Health launched Hospital Treatment Insurance (HTI), creating a new market in the health insurance sector in a bid to help employers tackle the issues facing businesses as the NHS continues to evolve. The product allows staff to avoid lengthy NHS waiting lists to receive ‘non-urgent’ treatment sooner.
Combined with Westfield’s health cash plans, staff can also access pre and post-operative care such as physiotherapy and private consultations without worrying about the cost.
Paul said: “With our HTI and cash plan bundle, employers can provide their staff with a really valuable healthcare benefit that allows them to get back to health quicker, but also gives the company peace of mind that staff can get health problems treated and be back at work much quicker.”
Hospital Treatment Insurance is available to all members of the Chamber with five or more employees, either as a standalone product or, for more comprehensive cover, it can be used in conjunction with Westfield’s Chamber Primary Health Plan. For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit the Westfield Health website or call 0845 602 1629, available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.