Archive for 2011

Update on HealthScreen UK

May 19, 2011

Since my last post, I’ve been meeting with a wide range of employers, benefits consultants and insurers to discuss the cancer specific screening proposition of HealthScreen UK  (HSUK).

There has been massive interest about how HSUK services can reduce the emotional and financial costs of the most common cancers. The early detection of cancer and educating people how to be the first line of defence against rising incidence has so many positive benefits:

  • For the individual, knowing your cancer risk and how best to manage it dramatically improves prognosis.
  • For the families of individuals affected, the emotional strain is lessened.
  • For employers, the costs of private medical and other health related insurances are significantly reduced as are the absence costs associated with cancer only diagnosed in the later stages.
  • For insurers, early detection reduces their cancer claims liability.
  • For the NHS, the costs of treating cancer diagnosed earlier reduces financial pressure on cancer budgets.
  • For the government, it supports their cancer strategy, Improving Outcomes.

We all seem to spend so much time discussing the increasing costs of treating cancer whereas we should be promoting every way possible to ensure early detection and self awareness. 

But it’s more than just about the financial benefits. Cancer screening saves lives.

My New Role at HealthScreen UK

Mar 20, 2011

Last week I was appointed MD of HealthScreen UK, the exciting new venture to help employers and their employees in the early detection and prevention of cancer.

It’s a great business to be involved with, supporting as it does the National Strategy on Cancer, Improving Outcomes   

For details please visit  – more from me as it happens.

Mar 03, 2011

Are you going to at the NEC 8/9 March?

I’ll be there both days, spending much of my time with the team from who have just launched a new early detection service for skin cancer.

Their new website goes live 22nd March.

Might see you next week.

Government Review of Sickness Absence

Feb 18, 2011

The Government has recently announced a new review into the sickness absence system in the UK. According to the DWP , ‘ The independent review, jointly chaired by David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, will explore radical new ways on how the current system can be changed to help more people stay in work and reduce costs.’

I’ve got a sense of deja vue. I thought that was what Dame Carol and the Health Work and Wellbeing programme had been tasked with in 2005 – that’s six years ago.  I still don’t know what effect this programme has had, as no performance indicators have ever been published.

Massive figures are quoted in the DWP press release such as working age ill health costing the economy £100 billion of which £30 to 40 billion are attributed to mental health problems.

How do we arrive at these figures? We rely on small sample absence surveys such as those from the CBI and CIPD and then try and extrapolate them across employment as a whole. Let’s be honest, we just don’t know. There’s still 25% of employers who don’t even record or monitor absence.  

If the costs to the economy really are that great and the bulk of those costs fall on the public purse through sick pay, NHS treatment costs and welfare benefits, isn’t this a good time to try and grasp the real extent of the problem.

I’m wondering whether it would be possible for every employer to be legally mandated to submit an annual return on sickness absence within its organisation.  A very simple return asking for % absence rate and several of the high ranking causes should not be too onerous to complete.  This could be submitted along with any number of employee related returns already required by HMRC. 

It would ensure that all employers took absence seriously. Having to report on something and make it available for wider scrutiny really does concentrate the mind. I know this is a generalism, but poor levels of sickness absence tend to be a sign of poor management.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to review not just the financial performance of an organistion but also its performance in health and wellbeing, because the quality of the supply of its services and or products are so closely linked. Show me an organisation with poor sickness absence and I’ll guarantee that it has a poor culture and low productivity.

If we can bring this out into the open, then the results will be twofold.

First, we won’t continually be guessing what the real figures are. We will have the right data to prioritise the right financial or clinical interventions.

Second, making employers properly accountable will drive internal improvements reducing the need to spend any more of the public purse on this than is necessary.

Breast Cancer now affects 1 in 8 Women

Feb 04, 2011

The most common cancer for women makes most of the headlines today following updated figures released by Cancer Research UK (CRUK). In earlier posts, I’ve told you that I am doing some work with because I truly believe we can do a great deal more to reduce the enormous financial and emotional costs of this disease. (Continue reading …)

More Pressure on Employers to Pay

Jan 31, 2011

In their briefing on the Health and Social Care Bill which is being debated by MPs today, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) indicates that already, certain surgical procedures are no longer being commissioned by PCTs in some parts of the country because ‘they are incorrectly deemed to be of limited clinical value’. It highlights hernia surgery and hip and knee operations in particular. If this becomes widespread, the implications for employers could be serious. (Continue reading …)

Responsibility for Employee Health

Jan 27, 2011

I don’t know Tony Massey, the CMO of Vielife, but he has made some very pertinent comments about the current issues in the debate about where  the cost of and responsibility for employee health should lie. State or private sector?

Click on this link to see what he has got to say and what I think. 

What do you think? Let me know.

Default Retirement Age – Health Benefits

Jan 20, 2011

Group Risk and Private Medical Insurers have been celebrating the exception of their insurances from the new regulations around the default retirement age coming into force from this April. I should think a number of employers are also relieved that they don’t have to continue to offer these insured benefits to an increasingly older workforce with the likely increased costs. However, there are a couple of questions still unanswered: (Continue reading …)

Health and Wellbeing @Work

Jan 11, 2011

I’ve been sent details of this two day conference at the NEC 8/9 March. Full details can be found at .

I’ve registered to go as there are a number of speakers I would like to hear and talk to. Hope to see you there.

Swine Flu

Jan 07, 2011

Back in September I suggested that providing employees with a flu vaccination seemed a sound investment ahead of the winter months. Like many health related commercial considerations, the costs of prevention (about £7 a shot) were significantly less than the costs of illness related absence and cure. I wonder how many employers factored flu vaccinations into their health and wellbeing strategy.

As is usual at this time of year, you can’t turn a page or click on a website without being bombarded with swine flu and absence related stories. One of the current headlines is that there is a shortage of the most up to date flu vaccine. With most professional commentators saying that we are coming to the peak of the flu outbreak, isn’t it a bit late to discover this? The whole point of vaccination programmes is to carry them out well in advance of a potential virus outbreak.

Were you ahead of the game?  What are your flu related absence costs going to be come March? Has it made you consider a different approach come next autumn?