Doctors at a Newton Aycliffe practice are rolling out a new service for businesses to access quick and cost-effective occupational health advice which could save them time and money.
A report earlier this year showed that workplace absence is currently costing the UK economy £18 billion in lost productivity – part of an increasing trend that has seen workplace absence increase year-on-year since 2011.
But the analysis from the Centre of Economic and Business Research predicts that the cost of absence will increase to £21bn in 2020, and to £26bn in 2030.
Doctors at Pease Way Medical Centre, in Newton Aycliffe, now want to help companies and employees by speeding up the occupational medical process and ultimately getting people back to work quicker.
Practice partners, Dr Geoff Walker and Dr Andrew Clarke, have more than 40 years’ experience between them – including 15 years in specialist occupational health.
They already work with a number of local firms, including Ineos and Hitachi Rail, as well as public sector organisations including British Transport Police, Cleveland Police and North Yorkshire County Council.
Now they’re offering an email advice service to firms on Aycliffe Business Park seeking quick advice on occupational health and medical issues.
Dr Walker, who has been at the Aycliffe practice since 2002, explained: “We see a lot of people who are at various different stages of their sickness absence which can cause major problems for employers as well as employees.
“We’ve seen people who’ve been off for nine months, and yet it might be the first time they’ve sought occupational advice, which is crazy. The sooner you get the advice, the better, because knowledge is power and it will speed up a resolution to the whole process.
“Often people think they can’t work through some illnesses, but evidence is unequivocal that work is a promoter of good health.
“So we see our role as being able to offer advice to businesses, with regards to balancing what’s best for the business and what’s best for the individual employee, resolving medical situations quicker and easier for the benefit of all parties.”
Businesses can subscribe to a retainer service from Pease Way, who say they can guarantee a response within 48 hours. The service would particularly be ideal for small and medium sized firms who have up to 100 staff, but don’t have on-site medical personnel. Where necessary a face to face medical assessment can be arranged.
Dr Clarke, who has been at Pease Way since 1993, said: “One of the problems facing businesses these days is that the occupational health process can be long and drawn out when it doesn’t need to be.
“We’re offering a fairly low level advice service, so clients could send us an email looking for a bit of straightforward, quick advice and we can get something back to them, and we’ll get back within 48 hours.”
Dr Walker, who has undertaken medical work for the Health and Safety Executive and Oil & Gas UK, added: “We have experience in a lot of different spheres.
“We understand the need to balance the needs of the employer as well as the individuals to get to resolve any occupational health or general medical issues as quickly as possible.”
Businesses interested in talking to Pease Way Medical Centre about the new service can call 01325 528000 or email [email protected]