Pressures on the NHS, and the wider political landscape, are behind the current main concerns of employees, according to our frontline nurses. At RedArc, we believe understanding these worries is the key to employers assisting staff through illness and making the most of health and wellbeing support available.
RedArc nurses have seen increasing concerns surrounding pressures on the NHS in six vital areas:
- Lack of face-to-face appointments and long waiting lists for appointments, especially with GPs, who are the starting place for care
- Last-minute cancellations of appointments, treatments and surgery – causing anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty, as well as continued pain, symptoms, and progression of the illness
- Equipment and medical aid shortages, with delays in supply or items no longer being provided by the NHS
- Lack of palliative care and hospice beds
- Covid – concerns about increasing cases and the roll out of fourth vaccines
- Non-personal service – a lack of people to talk to and a lack of time to discuss concerns. Many people feel let down by being given leaflets or apps rather than personal support
The pressures on the NHS mean that the service is suffering and so are service users. People feel they are not receiving the full care and support they need.
The strains on the NHS are compounded by three further worries:
- The situation in Ukraine
- The unsettled political landscape
- The cost of living
Each of which is a cause of anxiety in itself but these, added to the concerns regarding the NHS, mean that mental health is under strain.
All of these concerns sit alongside the initial health condition and can be an additional burden, bringing further worries and exacerbating mental health issues. It’s not uncommon for us to talk to people who feel their life is on hold and they can’t move on, they really value talking to someone who can guide them through their options.
The role of employers
There are various ways in which employers can help their employees with health service worries. This may be a simple as offering a virtual GP service, so that employees can speak to a doctor quickly, easily, and at a time convenient to their work. Other services can provide access to advice on navigating the NHS, so that patients can find the right consultants, understand how the waiting lists work, and ensure they are accessing all relevant support.
For employees facing serious illness or long-term health concerns, employers can ensure support is in place in terms of someone to act as a guide through the health journey. This may be as much in terms of someone who is able to listen and understand, as someone to be proactive in assembling a care plan.
Often it is a case of employers making the most of the health and wellbeing support they already provide, and so it’s vital they understand what’s included in their current benefits. Additional care and expert advice often sit alongside existing benefits and employers need to be aware of the options and communicate these to their employees. If the right level of care is not available, then it is possible to provide this on a standalone basis.
The simple message is that employees do not need to face illness, or worry about it, alone.