Research from AIG Life Limited has shown that workers are struggling to fit medical appointments around the demands of their job despite the best efforts of employers and the NHS. The company’s study found more than half (52 per cent) have had to cancel or change medical appointments because of work commitments while nearly six out of 10 (59 per cent) say they feel guilty about attending appointments during work as colleagues have to cover for them.
NHS data shows more than 15 million appointments with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff – around one in 20 of the total 307 million sessions – are wasted each year as people don’t turn up or cancel at the last minute. Employees admit it’s not their employers’ fault – 72 per cent say their bosses are flexible about time off for appointments – and two out of five workers (39 per cent) concede their GP offers times outside of normal working hours.
AIG Life’s research among more than 2,000 employees and self-employed workers found just two out of five (41 per cent) find it easy to take time off work so they can get to medical appointments. Nearly half (45 per cent) of those questioned said they regularly work a long way from their GP’s surgery so find it nearly impossible to get there during the working day.
The struggle millions face with arranging medical appointments around work is driving interest in video consultations – nearly two out of three (64 per cent) say getting advice via video on their phone or a tablet would be easier.
AIG Life has launched its Smart Health online health app to give new and existing customers unlimited, 24-hour access to health services as part of their protection insurance, at no extra cost and with customers able to speak to the same GP if they want.
“The cost of cancelled appointments is a drain on the NHS budget and causes real problems for GPs and their staff, despite efforts to be flexible,” said Alison Esson, propositions manager at AIG Life. “Yet we’re all so diligent about our jobs that people find it’s difficult to take time out of the working day to attend appointments because they worry about their workload and putting pressure on others.
“Coordinating busy lives with work pressure and appointment times can be a tough juggling act, with the inevitable risk that sometimes things get dropped,” she adds. “But technology can ease the strain. Video consultations with a GP, for example, can be a solution for many of us, which is where services such as Smart Health can be a very valuable additional service for customers.”