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Man accessing an online GP service from home

Why online doctors and GP helplines are a win/win for you and your employees

What are the benefits for you and your employees?

Before COVID-19, it was calculated that the number of people being added to an NHS waiting list was growing by 3.1% year-on-year, with the NHS struggling to keep up with the increasing demand. COVID-19 has now made this challenge even greater. According to one study, a third of UK GPs believe it will take at least a year for their practice to return to pre-COVID levels of capacity.

Many people have also been ‘putting off’ accessing support from their GP – even when they have symptoms that worry them – to avoid putting strain on the NHS. This approach, while well meaning, is risky and could result in serious health consequences.

Even when employees are able to see their GP, appointment times are often during working hours, which can be inconvenient. In a 2019 poll, Benenden Health discovered that seven in 10 workers think their local doctors’ surgery should increase its opening hours to improve accessibility for 9-5 workers.

As an employer, you want to reduce absenteeism and help your employees feel happy and healthy at work. One way to achieve this is by offering easy access to medical support by offering an online doctor or GP helpline to your staff.

So, how do online doctor and GP helplines work?

Many of us are now more familiar with medical appointments being carried out online or over the phone. Remote access to medical advice spiked during lockdown. NHS figures reveal that 48% of GP appointments in May 2020 were carried out over the phone, compared with just 14% in February.

Online doctors and GP telephone helplines provide employees with more convenient access to a GP, from the office on their lunchbreak or even the comfort of their own home. This means that employees don’t have to spend time trying to book an appointment or taking time off work to see a GP in person. Instead, they're able to get the advice they need at a time that’s convenient for them, with minimal disruption to their working day.

Appointments can also take place via video call if employees would prefer a face–to-face consultation.

Possible uses of a telephone or video GP consultation service are:

  • Discussion and treatment for everyday illnesses such as allergies, flu, skin conditions, sickness and diarrhoea, back problems, or sports injuries

  • Providing a diagnosis, advice, and a clear course of action

  • Open private referral to a specialist should the GP feel you require further investigation

  • Private prescription services – if the GP feels you would benefit from prescription medication, the GP can arrange and electronically authorise private prescription medication to be delivered to your work or home address

What are the benefits of a helpline for employees?

Employees will be able to query health concerns conveniently and efficiently without the hassle of having to arrange and travel to their doctor’s surgery. This allows them to confidently manage their health.  Providing employees with such a service will also help them to feel valued by the company too, making them feel more positive about their jobs.

Some businesses might assume that their workforce wouldn’t find a regular use for a GP helpline. However, many employees could be struggling with their health without your knowledge. A 2019 Benenden Health survey found that one in five people who suffer from a chronic medical condition have kept it a secret from their employer. With 24/7 telephone consultations, employees can speak to a doctor at a suitable time, when they need to, which could be outside of working hours.

What are the benefits for employers in offering a helpline?

First and foremost, helping employees manage their health and promoting wellbeing is an admirable goal for any business. Healthy employees are more likely to be productive, happy and feel appreciated by the business, which in turn will help with staff retention rates. Having a healthy workforce also helps to reduce time off and presenteeism.

Getting early diagnosis and treatment is also crucial in avoiding long-term sickness. If employees delay finding answers about something concerning them, it could result in a more serious problem down the line and them having to take time off work.

Many healthcare providers offer this service in a straightforward individual flat fee. This means the employee can use the service however much they need, and the cost remains the same. Providing care in this way is financially clear and cost-effective for the business.

How to get started in offering a helpline

The typical costs for one video or telephone consultation with a private GP could be up to £30 for 10 minutes, with additional costs for extra time spent. But, with Benenden Health’s Healthcare for Business, which is only £15.50 per employee, per month, employees are able to access GP telephone consultations 24/7 as often as they need.

Our helplines are staffed with qualified GPs and employees can access them from anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day and 365 days a year. Our services also include access to a face-to-face video consultation service if preferred, which can be scheduled 7 days a week, 8am til 10pm (not available on bank holidays).

So, if you’re keen to boost staff morale and productivity while lowering absenteeism, it could be worth considering offering access to a 24/7 GP helpline. Not only will you help your employees better manage their health, but you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce in the process.


Our business healthcare

Benenden Healthcare for Business provides an affordable, high quality, private healthcare solution to support all your employees. With easy setup and no exclusions on pre-existing medical conditions, we want to help make healthcare a standard of employment for everyone, rather than just a perk for the few. See how we can help you develop a healthcare solution that works for your whole business.