The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has introduced Benenden’s Healthcare for Business

Firefighting can be a hugely demanding job involving attending such incidents as road and rail accidents, chemical spills, collapsed buildings and, of course, fires. Protecting others brings physical and mental challenges for those on the front line, which is why looking after its employees is vital for organisations such as the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS).

“Our employees are our number one asset and, with the increase in pension age, our operational staff now have to work for longer,” says Helen Morbin, RBFRS fitness and health adviser. “We are committed to looking after them and helping all staff remain healthy.”

RBFRS provides cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from 18 fire stations across Berkshire and employs more than 400 operational staff as well as control room operators and support staff in functions such as IT, HR and fleet management.

RBFRS has devised a comprehensive strategy to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of its 600 staff members – including, in March 2017, offering Benenden’s Healthcare for Business.

“We can’t afford high levels of sickness and absence,” says Morbin. “Musculoskeletal issues are one of our top causes of absence, so we have looked at various interventions to tackle it. We have a movement specialist who can work with people to help prevent injuries happening in the first place – and we have occupational health provision.”

The idea to offer healthcare as a universal opt-in benefit came from staff, says Morbin.

“We looked at a range of healthcare options, including private medical insurance, and talked to other public sector bodies which were using Benenden and they were pleased with the service.

“We have already had some success tackling our sickness absence and hope Benenden can further help by getting staff quick access to diagnostic services – for example, scans such as MRIs and consultant appointments. Then if we find that our employees need surgery, they can access that earlier.”

In the first three months of membership, 8% of staff had already accessed Benenden’s services and feedback has been positive. One person who needed a minor operation was seen by a consultant within a week and booked in for the operation eight days later at Berkshire Independent Hospital. He says he found dealing with Benenden easy.

Signing up was also straightforward, says Morbin. “Our procurement team had several meetings to ensure we understood the service and costs.”

She adds: “We then had an implementation meeting with the account management team and drew up a plan, which included contractual and administrative elements, along with how we would communicate the benefit to staff. We worked closely to deliver it in a fairly short period of time. Since the launch, Benenden has been keen to make sure that our employees have access to the services when they need it most.”


To find out how Healthcare for Business can support your business and employees, call 0800 414 8179 or visit


Healthcare for Business

What is on offer for staff?

  • Private consultations and tests

  • Private treatment and surgery

  • 24/7 GP Advice Line

  • 24/7 Mental Health Helpline

  • Financial assistance

  • Care planning and social care advice