Home Health & Wellness Budget’s Plan for Annual Health Test Is a Belated First Step Towards a Preventative Healthcare Policy, Says Expert

Budget’s Plan for Annual Health Test Is a Belated First Step Towards a Preventative Healthcare Policy, Says Expert

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The Chancellor is expected to announce plans to give all employees annual health appraisals in next week’s budget. He’s also believed to offer up to 80% subsidies to SMEs introducing health appraisals and occupational health services.

A leading health testing expert says annual health ‘MOTs’ could be the first step towards a preventative healthcare policy and a healthier country.

A leading health testing expert has welcomed the news that the Government may be unveiling annual employee health checks in next week’s budget. The plans are believed to include subsidies of up to 80% for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) for annual health checks and occupational health services.

Currently, only half of the UK’s employers offer any health scheme.

According to plans revealed in the Sunday Times, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will announce health checks intended to help reduce the number of workers on long-term sick leave. By detecting problems earlier, the tests could also cut the number of people who are economically inactive because of health conditions.

Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratorysays: “Much of the UK’s current health policy seems to be based around waiting for problems to develop until the symptoms can no longer be ignored, and then treat them. That seems peculiarly British approach; in many other nations, prevention is better than cure.”

“The new annual appraisals are thought to include tests for blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), obvious pointers towards future health problems. By spotting many issues early, illnesses can be treated in good time, and many conditions can be avoided entirely. This is of vital importance for businesses and the NHS. Such tests will save millions of pounds in treating common illnesses currently only identified at a more advanced stage.”

“The Government’s primary motivation might be to get Brits back to work, but this could be the start of a more enlightened health policy. The problem is that, here in the UK, only the largest companies offer an in-house occupational health service or buy services from private providers to monitor the health of their staff. Many larger organisations recognise it to be a great perk, helping to lure and retain quality staff, but also a key driver in reducing sick days and absenteeism. It has even been shown to boost staff morale, too.”

“However, healthcare provision is seen as prohibitively expensive for many smaller firms, with SMEs five times less likely to invest in occupational health. That’s why it’s very encouraging to see that the Chancellor may try a new subsidy, enabling smaller companies that purchase occupational health services to claim back up to 80% of the costs from the Government. It’s also thought that the Government will likely expand this scheme further in years to come.”

“Blood tests should become a vital part of any annual health check “MOT”. These are fast, relatively inexpensive and can identify many conditions before symptoms arise, leading to faster, timelier treatments.”

“An annual health check, including a blood test, can’t come too soon. Almost two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese. Obesity costs the NHS an estimated £6.1bn a year to treat. It’s a major cause of diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, painful joints and other health problems. It’s thought that we have close to 1 million people with undiagnosed diabetes. A simple test, taken at work or in the comfort of people’s homes, could determine if they are close to or currently affected by this manageable condition.”

“Beyond just testing for a single condition or disease, a general health blood test is certainly a useful course of action for anyone who wants to ensure they are in good health to fight infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of needing access to health services and taking time off work. Many UK employees don’t receive sick pay, making preventative action even more important.”

“Individuals and employers don’t need to wait for the Government to get its new scheme off the ground to offer annual tests. For example, London Medical Laboratory’s General Health Profile at-home blood test provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health, including diabetes (HbA1c), gout, liver & kidney function, bone health, iron levels and a full cholesterol profile. Other more comprehensive tests check vitamin D levels, often low at this gloomy time of year, and any potential thyroid or hormonal imbalances.”

“They can be taken at home through the post or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 95 selected pharmacies and health stores. London Medical Laboratory also has mobile laboratories able to visit workplaces and perform tests swiftly and accurately. If done in-store or lab, a full blood test can be added to indicate a wide range of issues such as anaemia, thyroid, and leukaemia.”

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