MEDICAL appointments could be costing us more than £10 billion a year in lost working hours, a new study claims.
We miss an average of four days a year trying to get advice from GPs.
That works out at around £437.76 of missed time per person, per year.
And across the full-time working population of more than 23 million Brits, that adds up to a staggering £10,177,920,000.
The study, commissioned by health and wellbeing provider Benenden Health, also found that 65 per cent of people say their workplace has made allowances for additional time off for medical reasons.
However, one in five people who suffer from a chronic medical condition has kept it a secret from their boss.
Out-dated mode of health care
Benenden Health’s chief commercial officer, Helen Smith, said: “For those that work full-time across normal office hours, it’s almost inevitable that you might need time off work to visit a doctor.
“With a mixed bag in how employers approach time off work for medical appointments, tackling our health concerns could be having a huge effect on the economy.
“And that’s before you consider further commitments such as taking time off to see the dentist, have an eye test, or other things you may do for your health and wellbeing.”
She said that while making sure we’re fit and healthy is important, the traditional way we access medial advice is “ineffective”.
“Increasingly, both employers and health providers are looking at alternatives, including use of technology and other ways to access GPs.
“Proactive employers will recognise the value of good health and wellbeing and have developed strategies that put their people at the heart of their business, but sadly some employers fall short.”
Third of Brits feel guilty visiting their GPs
A third of the 2,000 Brits polled said that they felt guilty about taking time off work to see a doctor, with only half saying that their boss was flexible when they needed to book an appointment.
Loads of us which that our GPs had longer opening hours, with 27 per cent thinking that having to take time off to go within the set hours affects the productivity of their company.
A fifth have had to wait until their shift at work has finished to go to A&E – rather than simply taking time out of the office.
And that’s not surprising when the same number admit to looking down on other colleagues who take time away from work to go to the doctor.
Hard to prioritise our health
Helen Smith added: “We know that many GP and health providers are looking at their opening hours to allow more access outside of normal office hours, but employers also have a vital role to play.
“It shouldn’t be so hard to prioritise our health and wellbeing.
“Forward-thinking workplaces are including health initiatives such as free access to 24/7 GP helplines video e-consultations, and prescriptions delivered to your door or desk.
“This means that employees could get medical advice on their breaks without needing to travel to a GP, benefiting both the employer and employee.”
Time to change
She said it was time to change the way we view workplace sickness, tackling this proactively rather than a problem to react to.
“Benenden Health wants to help employers by making it easier than ever to get an expert’s medical opinion, for example through offering access to a 24/7 GP helpline.
“Employers with a corporate healthcare package like Benenden Health’s would also enable employees to access video consultations with a GP as well as a prescription service.”
Benenden Health member, Nicky said that being able to get medical advice from a doctor at a predesignated early hour has allowed her to get to work on time and her daughter to get into school.
MORE ON HEALTH
“Swift diagnosis through secure photo exchange had everything under control within hours and on the mend quickly with minimal disruption to my daily routine.
“It was the first time I’d used the service, couldn’t believe how easy and helpful it was.”
You can find out more about your boss can make access to GPs easier here.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours