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Time-poor and poorly – a perfect storm for SMEs

3 min read

17 December 2018

Sickness absence is a problem for all businesses. For SMEs, it accounts, on average, for over five lost working days per employee per year, according to the CIPD. Virtual GP services are beginning to change that.

The effects of absence due to illness or injury – such as lost productivity and the palpable pressure on teammates to pick up the pieces – usually grab the attention. But there’s more; many employers also feel the pinch on their business of employees taking the (necessary) time out to book and attend doctors’ appointments.

Research from AXA PPP healthcare, for example,  discovered that over three-quarters of UK SME bosses find that unavoidable ‘life admin’ such as doctors appointments during working time takes its toll on their business.

We all feel the pressure of time – whether at work or in our home lives. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. So when ill health strikes, it’s not surprising that, for many, securing an NHS GP appointment and taking the time to get to it is a real hassle.

Indeed, NHS England data highlights an upward trend when it comes to patients finding it tricky getting through to their GP surgery by phone. In 2012 18.6% of patients found it ‘not easy’ getting through to someone at their GP surgery, rising to 29.7% in 2018.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Arguably, one of the biggest recent advances in the employee health benefits arena has been the arrival of virtual private GP services. With a focus on convenience, these services are tapping into the everyday personal technology now mainstream to many people’s lives.

Today, busy employees can have video or telephone consultations at a convenient time and place with a qualified GP. The benefits are considerable – fast booking, same day consultations, longer appointment times and promptly delivered prescriptions.

With less time lost trying to make NHS GP appointments and the subsequent time away from work attending them, it spells good news for time-pressed businesses.

It makes good sense to safeguard employee health and wellbeing and, for employees, knowing their employer has their best interests at heart goes a long way to creating a supportive and productive workplace culture.

For practical advice and tips on looking after employee health and wellbeing, AXA PPP healthcare joined forces with three small business owners to create a free, downloadable Well Workplace Guide.