In today’s challenging landscape of accessing NHS primary care, on-site GPs are rapidly becoming a mainstream employee benefit rather than a luxury. Dr. Charles Levinson sheds light on this shifting trend in his article featured in Personnel Today (Levinson, Personnel Today, 23.10.2023).
Offering an on-site GP used to be considered a high-end employee benefit. However, as accessing NHS primary care gets harder, employers are increasingly considering it as a cost-effective option, as Dr Charles Levinson explains.
Getting a GP appointment has become an increasingly challenging affair, one that is consuming more and more of employees’ time.
Twinned with diagnostic and treatment delays, the chaos within our health system is undoubtedly having knock-on effects on employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Occupational health professionals take duty of care very seriously and more companies are recognising the value of investment in staff health.
Improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved business planning, improved recruitment/retention and general staff morale all add value.
In particular, on-site corporate GP clinics are currently in high demand across different sectors. This is a long-established and cost-effective way of providing your workforce with access to a GP whilst at work, getting ahead of potential health issues and diagnosing problems at an earlier stage as well as saving time wasted waiting for an appointment. This often means a more favourable patient pathway, benefiting the employee but also your organisation.
The on-site GP was once considered a high-end employee benefit. But, in today’s competitive employment market where attracting and retaining the best people is critical to the business’s success, it is becoming the norm.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that 185.6 million working days were lost in 2022, a new record high. That equals 5.7 days per worker, which, regardless of an organisation’s size, represents a very high cost.
As employers know, unplanned absence is particularly costly. Improving access to medical care not only mitigates that burden but also saves the time employees waste waiting for and travelling to and from a GP surgery during company time.
A surgery visit is not a trip the individual wants to make, or the company wants the individual to take and it makes sense to invest in a GP on company premises.
It also demonstrates how seriously an employer takes its duty of care and helps to retain and attract talent, which is increasingly important in the current stretched and competitive labour market.
Word travels and a reputation for caring for employees backed up by investment in the workforce improves the chances of bringing the best people into an organisation.
Consultations with experienced GPs can be carried out at a time and location of your choosing, meaning they can be tailored to both the organisation’s and the employee’s needs, and an employer can ensure as many of their team are in the office as possible when the doctor is on site.
Where hybrid working is in place, video calls as part of the package mean employees can see a doctor where and when they want.
In terms of practical delivery, all that needs to be provided is the space. A first aid room with an examination couch, a desk and two chairs, a privacy curtain and hand-washing facilities is ideal, but on-site GPs are used to managing with limited resources. The better the facilities, however, the more the doctor can do to support staff efficiently.
A recent poll from GP advocacy group Rebuild General Practice showed 57% of adults think it is important they see the same GP when visiting the surgery. At Doctorcall, we aim to send the same doctor each time to build trust and familiarity in a way that is impossible otherwise. We also passionately believe in the importance of building a relationship with patients and the only way to do this is repeated consultations with the same doctor.
An on-site GP service is considerably less expensive (and dare I say it, better value) than private medical insurance. Crucially, clients do not need to treat it as a P11D taxable staff benefit, since it is a service provided for the company’s benefit.
Some employees may think that occupational health physicians can appear unhelpful when they release limited information. OHPs provide guidance to HR within a strict framework around supporting the employee and protecting their privacy and rights – and employees may see this as opaque.
Through providing a GP service there are none of these sensitivities, as the doctor’s duty of care is to the individual. We do not sign staff off sick, which should be done by their own GP if it is required – we simply provide them with support, early diagnosis and treatment as appropriate.
With retrenchment in public health and companies investing increasing amounts of time and money in staffhealth and wellbeing, ultimately an on-site corporate GP should be viewed as providing excellent value formoney.
Whether it’s with Doctorcall or another provider, corporate medical services will help to boost a workforce’s mental and physical health, raise morale and retain and attract talent.