How to support your employees in the face of NHS waiting times | Connor Broadley

News & Insights | 27th February 2023

How to support your employees in the face of NHS waiting times

By Sinéad Stone, Account Manager

Employee Benefits

3 Min Read

Employers are keen to ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees, which in turn enables them to perform at their best in both the workplace and in their lives outside of work.

Figures released by NHS England in December 2022 show that a staggering 7 million people are awaiting hospital treatment in England, the equivalent to one in eight of the nations’ population. Almost 800,000 people require musculoskeletal treatments and half of them have been waiting longer than the 18 weeks. This is not just the target waiting time, but supposedly a patient right, which was written into the NHS constitution.

The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) released figures which show that there had been a total of £69,000 self-funded treatments, during the final three months of 2021, representing a rise of around 39% for the same for the same period, prior to the pandemic.

With some common procedures, such as hip and knee replacements costing around £15,000, patient groups are concerned that we will see a two-tier system, with the poorest being unable to afford the required treatment. There are further concerns that those on the lowest income, will suffer even more, as the waits are likely to impact on their mental health and potentially the ability to work and look after their loved ones. Some patients have also utilised crowdfunding, with many setting up GoFundMe pages to help cover the cost of their treatment. Private hospital operators expect the increase in self-funded treatments to continue for at least the next 3-5 years, with many expecting this market to grow by 10%-15% by 2025.

With so many now feeling as though there is no option but to self-fund their medical treatment, coupled with the cost of living crisis, employers have realised the importance and their role contributing to the wellbeing of their people. Offering support will ensure a healthier and happier workforce, whilst reducing absenteeism and presenteeism.

Private medical insurance allows you access to appointments, treatments and surgeries much faster and can offer employees more flexibility when it comes to booking appointments. This also alleviates the uncertainty and stress on the NHS waiting times. The ability to bypass NHS waiting times and receive the medical care you need, when you need it is one of the clearest benefits of a private medical insurance plan.

So, what can you do to help? There are many types of policies and support services that employees can utilise for their mental and physical wellbeing, such as health cash plans and private medical insurance. As an employer, we would suggest that you consider the following:

  • Review your existing benefits, utilising existing providers and brokers, to ensure you are fully aware of what is already available to employees and whether it remains fit for purpose
  • Consider whether your current benefits offer assistance for employees’ mental and physical wellbeing
  • Review any gaps in cover, and consider new policies or initiatives
  • Ensure that any new or existing schemes are effectively communicated to your people
  • Consider cost neutral benefits to the company by offering self-pay benefits such as private medical insurance, which can offer more competitive premiums for employees to pay than if they were to purchased privately
  • Hold health assessment days on site, which can be either employee or employer paid

As we approach the end of winter, it is important employers remain present for their employees and open to providing support which they may need from both a physical and mental health perspective.

If you would like to discuss private medical insurance in more detail, please contact