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Employers to play important role in detecting cancer post-pandemic

Employers have a crucial role to play in tackling 50,000 undiagnosed cancer cases, according to health insurance provider Towergate Health & Protection.

As the country begins to exit the third national lockdown, many employees are keen to re-book routine check-ups and medical procedures that were cancelled during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there is a huge backlog of appointments and GPs are still under an enormous strain.

Macmillan has estimated around 50,000 people are missing a cancer diagnosis.

Towergate Health & Protection said employers have a responsibility to allow appropriate time for employees to make or catch up on any missed GP appointments from the past year.

The health insurer has also provided a guide for employers to help assess the options for providing healthcare and screening, which may enable employees to be seen sooner.

Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection, said: “Employers need to look at the latest enhancements to health and wellbeing propositions.

“Many of these now allow screening and employees may be able to see a medical professional sooner than would otherwise be possible.”

Not only do GPs now have to manage the backlog of appointments, but they have to also start seeing new patients.

The pandemic has put pressure on the UK healthcare system and Macmillan’s analysis found it would take 20 months to work through the backlog alone if activity were increased and sustained at 10% above pre-pandemic levels.

Towergate Health & Protection advised employers to support employees to attend regular health screenings, by doing so they would help to detect the early signs of medical conditions like cancer, helping to ensure people are treated early and effectively.

Remote GP services that offer employees 24/7 access, and where they can be referred and prescribed medication just like an in-house practice, were also recommended.

Employers were also told to offer routine cancer screenings that include a range of preventative cancer checks.

Hill said: “The message is that employers are in a position to be able to help their employees with preventative care and early diagnosis.

“There are a variety of options available, which do not have to be expensive, and could prove to be invaluable.” 

How HR can support employees with cancer in the workplace:

Supporting a colleague affected by cancer

A CEO cancer diagnosis: best practice for HR

Cancer patients feel unsupported at work