Completing your PHIN profile – A step by step guide

Completing your PHIN profile – A step by step guide

PHIN Designated Medical

How to set up your PHIN profile. A step-by-step guide.

Last month we posted an article in relation to PHIN, and the importance of having a profile and keeping it up to date.

We sat down with Jonathan Evans Communications and External Affairs Manager, Private Healthcare Information Network(PHIN), to ask him why private practitioners should be part of their network. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with PHIN, it is an independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. The principle behind the network is to ‘empower patients to make better-informed choices when choosing private treatment.’

If you have not yet read our first article ‘Is your PHIN profile accurate’ we recommend doing so before continuing with this article.

When we posted the article we received many messages about the set-up process so thought it would be worth creating a follow up to take you through it step-by-step.

The CMA Order 2014 requires private healthcare facilities in the UK to submit private activity data to PHIN. Consultants are invited to review and verify the data submitted by facilities about their practice via the PHIN Consultant Portal.

Following some helpful feedback from consultants, PHIN has made some changes to the Portal, making the login journey easier. To access the new Portal you will need to activate your account, even if you have logged in before. An email will be sent to your GMC registered email address inviting you to activate your Portal account.

To demonstrate activating your account before signing in, there are steps below to help.

 

Step 1

The first step is to visit the Portal:

https://portal.phin.org.uk/ and click ‘activate your account’ under the sign-in button.

Step 2

Follow the steps on the screen to activate your account.

To confirm you are the owner of the email address that you are using, request a security code by entering the email address you have registered with the GMC and select ‘Request security code’. This will arrive in your inbox shortly.

 

Step 3

The security code you receive will be sent from a Microsoft account on behalf of PHIN. You will need to use the 6 digit code to verify that you are the owner of the email address.

 

Step 4

Enter the security code and click ‘submit code’.

Step 5

Your email address will then be successfully verified and you will be asked to create a new password.

Please follow the on-screen guidance to create your password and include both upper and lower case letters, digits and symbols to generate a strong password.

Once you’ve created a new password, click ‘Create’. You should then be able to log in to the PHIN Portal.

 

So there you have it. Your step by step process to accessing and setting up your PHIN profile. PHIN is a legal requirement for all consultants in the UK, but we asked Jonathan what else would he add to the standard information available on PHIN, especially to new consultants entering private healthcare. He told us:

Engaging with PHIN is really important. Not only is it a legal requirement to engage with PHIN to submit fee information but reviewing your data and signing it off for publication is crucial and, when consultants have done that, many of them tell us that it is a very valuable resource. 

Following the Paterson Inquiry and greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big push for greater transparency, and it is unlikely that private healthcare will ever go back to the days of old. People considering private treatment are consumers and they act like consumers.

Greater transparency about what work consultants and hospitals undertake, and the outcomes (i.e. the benefit to patients), is now an expectation. 

PHIN is not only a great place to market yourself, but it is also a place where you can view your whole practice data. This can help with whole practice appraisal and revalidation, but many consultants also find this helpful for understanding the care they provide in relation to others.’

Our team at Designated Medical are available to support you with delivering the PHIN criteria. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Medical PA or Designated team to find out more: abi@designatedgroup.com

 

 

Opportunities exist outside of the NHS.

Opportunities exist outside of the NHS.

Leaving the NHS

Planning to leave the NHS? For the huge number of doctors who say they are contemplating a move, Jane Braithwaite shares details of the support available that can offer a route to an alternative career path.

Article originally written for and posted on Independent Practitioner Today.

The last year has been a struggle for everyone in some respect, but for those working in the NHS the pressure of dealing with Covid-19 has been immense. 

We all vividly remember the battle to provide everyone in the health service with adequate PPE, so they felt some level of protection, closely followed by harrowing images of faces battered and bruised by long periods of wearing masks. 

Those working in primary care had to adapt to deliver a Covid-safe environment for patients and transform the provision of most services using technology to provide virtual consultations. 

As vaccines became available, GP practices and hospitals have worked something close to a miracle to ensure they can be administered throughout the population rapidly. 

We have recently seen a new campaign entitled ‘If I die, it will be your fault’, launched by the Institute of General Practice Management to call for an end to abuse from patients following their latest report, which concludes that most GP receptionists face unprecedented levels of abuse at work. 

And now the same NHS staff face the challenge of dealing with long waiting lists of patients whose treatment has been delayed by Covid.

 

Worrying report

A report earlier this summer from the BMA delivers a stark and worrying insight into how doctors are feeling right now, and the evidence is clear that many of them are unhappy and are considering leaving the NHS in the next year.

It said: ‘Thousands of exhausted doctors in the UK have told the BMA they are considering leaving the NHS in the next year, as many continue to battle stress and burnout without adequate respite from the exhaustion caused by the demands of the pandemic.’

Responses came from over 4,000 doctors and 31% of them stated they are more likely to take early retirement, which has more than doubled since the survey was done 12 months ago. Half of the respondents said they are more likely to work fewer hours and 25% more likely to take a career break. 

The survey also suggests a strong desire by many to continue to work, but in a different environment. Twenty per cent of respondents are more likely to leave the NHS for another career, with 17% considering working in another country and 14% more likely to work as a locum. 

If doctors follow through on these desires to retire, work fewer hours or leave the NHS for another career, huge resource gaps will develop in the NHS. 

 

Support available

Of course, over time, the desire for some doctors to leave the NHS may decline and the NHS pension may be an important factor, but for those who are considering alternative careers, I wanted to investigate and share details of the support and the organisations available that can offer a route to an alternative career path. 

Before considering the options, it is also helpful to understand the reasons why there is a desire to leave the NHS, as this gives useful insight into the objectives of doctors when seeking alternative careers. 

We often assume, when it comes to career choice, that money is the greatest motivator for most individuals. 

But the BMA survey showed that pay was quoted as the main reason for leaving the NHS by 29% of the respondents, while workload and personal well-being drew a much higher response. 

 

Heavy workload

Forty-four per cent of respondents looking to leave the NHS said that workload was a factor and 43% highlighted their own personal well-being. 

So in looking for alternative careers, opportunities that offer a more manageable workload and a better work-life balance will be hugely appealing. 

Of course, finances will be a significant factor for many and a great place to look for helpful information is Medics Money.

Medics money was founded by Dr Tommy Perkins and Dr Ed Cantelo to help doctors, dentists and other professionals make better financial decisions. Of particular note, Ed is a GP trainee and also a chartered accountant and tax adviser with nine years’ experience at accountancy firm PWC. 

On its website, you will find a wealth of resources in the form of articles and eBooks, but its most valuable offering is a series of podcasts in which it covers a huge range of topics of relevance to the profession. 

It’s latest offering, called ‘Episode 44 – The NHS pensions trap with salary sacrifice’, would be a good listen as would ‘Episode 25 – Using a limited company to save tax and invest to retire early. 

 

Private practice

One obvious option for doctors looking for a career outside the NHS is, of course, private practice, and with a greater desire for improved well-being and a more manageable workload, this is most definitely an option that may appeal to many. 

The aim of Private Practice Pro is to help doctors launch, run and grow their own private medical practice. It is founded by Mr Giles Davies, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon, and Tom Davies who is a lawyer and former chief investment officer of Seedrs. 

Private Practice Pro offers a video-based course for doctors looking to set up in private practice with Giles acting as medical coach and Tom as a business coach.

The course is made up of over 55 on-demand videos complemented by 30 templates and guides and, for interested doctors, Private Practice Pro regularly runs webinars and small-group workshops. 

 

Entrepreneurial doctors

For the more entrepreneurial doctors, Doctorpreneurs is a global community of doctors, medical students and other interested individuals focusing on healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship.

In its most recent newsletter, it includes an inspiring interview with the chief executive and founder of Tympa Health, which is a London based start-up that has created the world’s first, all in one, hearing health assessment system. 

It also includes details of job opportunities across a wide range of sectors. This is a good place to start to understand the type of job opportunities that are currently available and it is an exciting discovery.

It is free to join, and you simply sign up on its website.

Changing career

My final suggestion is Medic Footprints, who provide ‘The world’s biggest gateway to alternative careers for doctors’.

This is again an organisation led by doctors, providing a wealth of information on their website regarding changing careers and connecting doctors with career coaches who can help manage the process. 

Their job board presents several exciting opportunities including some overseas roles that will appeal to those doctors interested in working outside the UK. 

You can join their community for free on their website or upgrade to their premium package for access to their series of webinars and a free CV review.  

In my search for supportive organisations for doctors when looking for a career change, I also discovered that the NHS provides further information on its website. 

Back in 2017, NHS England published a paper offering guidance for doctors looking to leave the NHS, which included a selection of organisations including Medic Footprints. 

In an ideal world, we would all like doctors to enjoy their career within the NHS and to want to stay, but right now it seems the best approach may be to ensure that the wealth of talent is not lost and is engaged in other rewarding healthcare careers that ultimately benefit the UK population now and in the future. 

In my role as MD at Designated Medical, I work with many doctors pursuing either a full- or part-time career in private practice and I would be happy to help anyone who would like to know more about getting started.

 

 

Call Answering

Call Answering

“The patient says she couldn’t get through”.  

“She was a new patient. We need to answer every call”.  

“I just received a complaint from a GP who couldn’t get through to refer a patient”  

How do you answer every patient call? Is it even possible? How many calls are being answered at your practice today? 50%90%? Can you measure this? How do you ensure you offer an exceptional quality of service when it comes to answering patients calls?  

At Designated Medical, our goal is to help our consultants manage and grow their private practices, providing the support needed to enable them to succeed whilst also reducing the stress and pressure of managing a private practice. As part of this commitment, we regularly share our expertise and knowledge, aiming to offer helpful guidance on best practice.   

In this article we share our expertise regarding the important challenge of reliably answering patient calls.   

Designated Medical 

Our team of Medical PAs at Designated Medical aim to answer a minimum of 90% of incoming calls every day and they often achieve 100%. Thedo this through teamwork.   

The solution we have adopted is to encourage our Medical PAs to work as a team and support one another. When a patient calls their consultants number, the Designated Medical PA for this consultant will answer the call. But if that Medical PA is already on a call, at lunch or otherwise engaged, the call will be answered by another member of our team who is also familiar with the consultant’s practice and able to handle the call professionally, including booking an appointment and answering most queries  

A culture of call answering.  

When your practice phone rings, there is a good chance that the call is a new patient looking to book their first appointment with you and missing it is a missed opportunity. If a new patient gets through to your voicemail, they will probably call the second clinic or doctor on their list and that is why it is so important to create a “call answering culture within your practice, aiming to answer every patient call.   

Too often, we hear comments such as “the phone rings constantly stopping me getting on with my work” but answering patient calls is the highest priority and not answering calls will have a negative effect on the growth of your practice 

Measurement  

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Peter Drucker.  

This is one of the most significant quotes in business, made by Peter Drucker, a very well-known modern business management guru. He has written 39 books on the subject and is credited with two of the most important business quotes of all of time, of which this is one.   

To improve anything you need to understand how well you are performing currently so that you can improve and know that you are improving.   

You need to measure how many calls you are receiving each day/ week/ month and most importantly how many of those calls are being answered. Ideally you would regularly monitor the percentage of calls being answered. A sensible percentage to aim for as a starting point is 80% of calls to banswered but 90% would be betterTo answer 100% of calls is not impossible but would require significant effort.  

If you analyse calling patterns for your clinic, you will see that calls, annoyingly, do not arrive in a routine fashion. There will be busy periods on certain days of the week and at certain times of day. Most people find that Monday mornings are exceptionally busy, but Fridays are quieter. The busiest times of day tends to be 9am to 10am, followed by a flurry at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Ensuring you have enough resource to answer all the calls at these busy times, is challenging.   

Answering a minimum of 90% of calls is great, but you also need to ensure that the few calls that are answered by voicemail are returned promptly and this can be achieved during those quieter periods but must be done within a truly short period of time.  

Technology  

Technology provides numerous solutions to help you improve call answeringA good telephone system enables you to set up a “hunt group” so that incoming calls are delivered to a group of people automatically and this is the feature that we use at Designated Medical. This ensures that calls are answered as quickly as possible ideally by the Designated Medical PA, but when not possible, by another member of the team  

There are other pieces of technology that you may love or hate, for example, the option to press 1 for appointments, 2 for invoicing, 3 for address details which is called an automated attendant 

Own your number!  

This is a slight asidebut we want to take this opportunity to advise you that it is vital for every consultant/ practice/ clinic to “own” their own telephone number. You will spend significant time and money promoting your telephone number on websites, business cards, hospital websites and insurance company websites and patients will store your number on their mobile phone.  Changing your telephone number part way through your career will have negative consequences and we have seen this happen too oftenWith modern technology, it should be possible to “port” a telephone number from one system to another, but this is not always the case.  

The same applies to consultants sharing a telephone number, perhaps because they share a medical secretary. What happens if someone leaves the partnership? Who retains the number? You can’t split in in half!  

Please make sure you “own” your own number from day one. It is equally important to “own” your own email address.  

Message taking services.  

There are numerous call answering bureaus such as Money Penny, specialising in answering calls in a reliable manner and their % answered will be very impressivefor example “we answer 95% of calls in 4 rings or less”. These services are generally large call centres, and your calls will be answered with a pre-determined script. A message will be taken and sent to your clinic by email or text message.  

There is a place for these services in the private medical world but ideally most calls should be answered by someone who can help the patient by booking an appointment or assisting with their questions as opposed to simply taking a message. These services can be utilised as an overflow service to avoid patients receiving voicemail and can also be used to extend your “opening hours” or even provide a 24-hour service.  

Auditing your calls  

We would also advise performing regular call audits. This is not at all high tech and involves your Medial PA keeping a record of the nature of each call receivedA simple checklist on a notepad kept by the phone will suffice 

The calls you desperately do not want to miss are the calls from new patients looking to book an appointment  

On a typical day, say you receive 35 calls, and your audit results tell you that 15 of these are patients calling to confirm the practice address, you can take action to reduce the number of these calls and improving your chances of answering the calls from new patients looking to book an appointment. Simply sending patients an appointment reminder ahead of their appointment, including the practiceaddress and how to find you will work. If you ask your patients to confirm their appointment, I strongly recommend asking them to reply by email as opposed to calling to confirm!

If your audit results tell you that 10 out of the 35 calls each day are from patients chasing their results, then you need to look at why this is happening. Are the results being sent out in a timely manner? Or perhaps patients are being advised that results will be received quickly, setting expectations that are too high?

Online booking  

Many Practice Management Systems (PMS) now offer online booking and if your PMS does, we recommend implementing this on your websiteWe know that patientsespecially the younger demographic, are keen to book online, and we encourage all clinics and consultants to embrace this new technology as it offers patients something they want, and it reduces call volumes. What’s not to love! 

 Our Top Tips  

  • Develop a “Call answering culture” – answering patient calls must be viewed as high/ top priority.   
  • Measure it to improve it – regularly review call answering performance.  
  • Call audit – why do patients call Reduce the number of calls where appropriate.  
  • Technology solutions – Investigate ways your telephone system can help you to improve.  
  • Own your telephone number – ensure you have a number (and email address) for life.  
  • Voicemail – Ensure messages are returned promptly.  
  • Appointment reminders – include address details. Ask patients to email to confirm rather than call.  
  • Online booking – set up on your website.   
  • Call answering bureaus/ call centres – use as a backup option and to increase your “opening” times. 
Brexit and private healthcare

Brexit and private healthcare

The start of 2021 has understandably been dominated by the continued coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 1st of January 2021 also marked the date the UK left the EU, and this brings changes for all of us in the UK both in our personal and business lives.

On Christmas Eve, Boris Johnson proudly announced that a UK-EU trade deal had been agreed, containing rules for living, working and trading together and this agreement took effect from 11pm on 31st December.

At Designated Medical, our goal is to help our consultants manage and grow their private practices, providing the support needed to enable them to succeed whilst also reducing the stress and pressure of working in private practice. As part of this commitment, we regularly share our expertise and knowledge, aiming to offer helpful guidance on best practice.

We have been reviewing how Brexit affects our business and we thought it would be helpful to share our understanding with our consultants too, in the hope that it may help you understand the key changes. We are by no means experts on this subject and the information we provide is gleaned from our research using the information provided by the Government on their website.

We would welcome your feedback and comments to help us all gain a deeper understanding of the important changes.

The UK-EU trade deal is a 1200-page document, (the summary is 34 pages long) describing exactly what has been agreed which I doubt many of us will find the time or motivation to read, but we do need to assess how Brexit affects the private healthcare sector. The full document can be accessed here.

Brexit seems to affect the private healthcare sector in three main ways as follows:-

  • Importing/exporting medical supplies and devices
  • Sharing data
  • Recruitment

Importing and exporting medical supplies and devices

As we were made very aware in the run-up to Christmas, the borders between the UK and the EU are vital to the flow of goods and any changes risk problems developing quickly.

When France shut their borders on Sunday 20th December, a queue of over 2000 lorries very quickly formed and there is a lot of anxiety that this could happen in the coming weeks and months as a result of the new rules regarding the import and export of goods.

In the private healthcare sector, we rely on importing drugs, vaccines, medical equipment, and medical supplies and so this is an area we need to think about carefully.

Obviously, the news of the Oxford vaccine is phenomenal, and it is wonderful that we have been able to create this vaccine in the UK so quickly, but many of our medicines and medical supplies are imported into the UK and the Brexit deal changes the way this is managed. Most of us will not be directly involved, but we will be reliant on our suppliers to ensure that supplies are able to reach us in a timely manner. Suppliers will be responsible for handling the change of process and the additional administration involved, but we also have a responsibility to make sure we have access to the supplies needed to deliver care to our patients.

EU citizens currently living in the UK by 31st December 2020 will see no change to their rights and status until 30 June 2021. To continue living in the UK after June, EU citizens can apply to the UK settlement scheme. For EU citizens moving to the UK after 1st January 2021, they may be required to apply for a Visa.

Employers will be able to recruit “Skilled workers” from the EU after 1st January, but it will not be possible to recruit from outside the UK for jobs offering a salary below £20,480 or jobs at a skill level below “RQF3” which we understand is equivalent to A level. For some jobs in health and education and also for people at the start of their careers, there are different salary rules.

To understand more about the required skill level and salary levels read more here.

There is a documented process to follow to employ a skilled worker and you will also need to pay a licence fee between £536 and £1,476 depending on whether you are classified as a small sponsor or charity, or a medium or large sponsor.

In summary, as business owners, doctors and employers, we need to consider how Brexit affects us and ensure we are aware of the additional responsibilities it places upon us.

As mentioned earlier, this is not our area of expertise and we are approaching this as a business, ensuring our own company is compliant, and also as a service provider to consultants working in private healthcare.

We want to make sure we are well informed, and we thought it would be helpful to others for us to summarise and share our understanding along with references to key supporting information.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments, especially if you have a deeper understanding than we do. If we receive a significant amount of information from readers that we think will be valuable to others, we will review and update this article and re-post.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Harness People Power

Harness People Power

Our managing director Jane Braithwaite explores the broad subject of managing people and teams, covering topics such as our responsibility as employers, leadership styles, different employment models and well-being.

In this issue, she recommends the three ‘C’s – clarity, communication and care – for improving the power of your people and managing your team through this difficult period.

It is the people within them that make companies and businesses work, and this is especially true in healthcare. Despite huge advances in technology, including the automation of many administrative processes such as the incorporation of robotic surgery and the use of artificial intelligence in diagnosis, it is still fundamental in all healthcare businesses to have the right people, with the right skills and attitude in the right roles. There are very few examples of services or businesses where one person can do everything and, in most cases, it takes a team effort.

Sense of achievement

If you are a surgeon, for example, there may be moments where you feel you are alone, but caring for your patients is a communal effort and requires the commitment and dedication of a group of people with varied skillsets working together. 

A well-performing team is a joy and being part of such a team is fulfilling on many levels: the sense of achievement and belonging, the feeling of being respected and of making a valued personal contribution. But for every high-performing team, there is an opposite, less successful example. Most of us have experienced at least one team in our career that is verging on dysfunctional. 

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were already aware that, in the UK, people were feeling under pressure and struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Of greatest concern in this current climate is the increased pressure that people are experiencing in both their personal and professional lives. Everyone is attempting to handle the uncertainty of Covid, coping with the lack of control, worries about their health,  finances and the health of their friends, families and colleagues. 

Relying on adrenaline

In a crisis, we rely on adrenaline to help us perform and, in most cases, the crisis is short-lived and this short-term solution is appropriate. To continue to rely on adrenaline on a long-term basis is potentially damaging and we expect this to cause numerous longer-term issues. 

In the early days and weeks of the pandemic, business owners, including those in private healthcare, focused on survival. What do we need to do to get through this? At the time, there was a sense that this would last for weeks rather than months. 

The Government announced measures to support employers in the form of the job retention scheme alongside various loans and grants, to support us in achieving the goal of survival. Many individuals were furloughed from their positions and some continue to be furloughed at the time of writing due to a further extension of the policy.  While being furloughed may sound like a pretty good deal, many have suffered from increased stress due to job insecurity and anxieties related to financial and career impacts. In the worst-case scenarios, we have seen an increasing number of people being made redundant and there is an expectation this will continue as the Government schemes eventually come to an end. 

For those individuals who have worked throughout the pandemic, we are seeing signs of burn-out. 

Tension between colleagues

However, one unanticipated symptom of furlough is a tension between work colleagues where those who have continued to work perceive their furloughed colleagues to have had the easy option, leading to an underlying resentment. Many of us have been adapting to working from home either on a part-time or full-time basis and this brings about a new set of challenges. Initially, it was the logistical issues of home-working that focused our attention. Setting up secure IT systems, adapting to working in a paperless manner, talking to one another via Zoom and so on.  As the weeks and months have passed, our focus has shifted to the reality of working remotely long-term, managing teams of remote workers and ensuring everyone remains motivated and productive. 

Bringing staff back

Clinics and offices have faced the challenge of bringing their employees back in a Covid-safe manner and adapting the physical environment to ensure it is safe and compliant. Space limitations have reduced the number of people who can physically be in the workplace on any particular day, leaving members of staff continuing to work at home on a part- or full-time basis. Some people have been reluctant to return to the office, either because they love working from home or they are scared to come back, particularly if their commute involves public transport. The current crisis looks set to continue for some time and, as leaders and managers in healthcare, we need to take action to address these issues and support the people that make up our teams so that they continue to be high performing. With that in mind, how do we create high-performing teams in this current climate? It is a challenge!

This month, my initial recommendations for improving the power of your people and managing your team through this difficult period are clarity, commun­ication and care.

Clarity

Clarity helps to alleviate a lack of control and improving clarity may help many people to deal with the current environment.  Many of us may feel that we need to regroup and rebuild, and we are faced with the challenge of doing this in difficult circumstances, as the immediate future is not totally clear to us. In times of uncertainty like this, it is often valuable to go back to basics and consider the way in which we manage people, to review our responsibilities as employers and improve our policies and processes from a people perspective. 

We adapted our workplaces very quickly to allow our organisations to continue to operate and survive the crisis. Our teams accepted this and changed quickly too, but, in our haste, we may have lost some clarity regarding roles and responsibilities. We need to reconnect with our teams to understand how the changes have affected them, how they are feeling about these changes, what is working well now and what needs addressing. Ensuring that everybody has clarity on their individual responsibilities and how their role impacts on others within the team will enhance both individual and team performance. A positive way to do this is to review each team member’s objectives so they have absolute clarity of what is expected of them in the short term, the next month and quarter. 

Communication 

Good leaders communicate with their teams, both individually and together, on a regular basis. If in doubt, over-communicate. In a time of crisis, we all need reassurance, and communication is vital to provide this reassurance. Ensuring everyone is aware of the current situation and what changes are happening is important, even at times when we are not entirely sure ourselves. Many people are interacting less with work colleagues as well as in their personal lives and this can lead to feelings of isolation. 

If your team is working remotely, communication is even more important. You can communicate in a variety of ways including emails, video and phone calls.  Not all communication needs to be formal and you may want to recreate the office atmosphere by agreeing a regular, perhaps weekly, opportunity for a general chit chat over a cup of tea. 


Care

Caring for our teams and providing additional support will pay dividends in the short and long term. The topic of mental health is being discussed more openly than ever and appropriately so, given the number of individuals in the UK who are suffering from some form of mental health problem. Again, we were aware that this was a big issue prior to Covid, but this has exacerbated the situation in a big way. Absence from work due to mental health has increased over the last few years, which has led to mental health becoming a boardroom discussion, as it impacts on the productivity of an organisation. As employers, we have a ‘duty of care’ and a responsibility to do all we reasonably can to support our employees’ health, safety and well-being. 

If a member of our team has a mental health issue, we need to talk to them to determine what support they might need. If an employee feels they are well supported, the issue is less likely to build up, which results in less time off, improved morale and greater loyalty. 

Creating a culture where mental health can be talked about as openly as physical health will allow individuals to raise their concerns and worries before they become significant. 

Employee survey

You could consider running an employee survey, asking specific questions relating to well-being and mental health and collecting responses in an anonymous way to give you a true picture of how your team are feeling. Having one-to-one discussions with each employee allows an opportunity for personal issues to be raised and discussed in a safe environment. Consider creating a mental health or well-being champion for your organisation or making mental health training available. Leaders who address well-being and mental health will allow their team to succeed and will also benefit from greater loyalty on a long-term basis. 

Look to patients too scared of Covid to seek help

Look to patients too scared of Covid to seek help

Article written by Robin Stride and originally published on Independent Practitioner Today, 8th December 2020

Private doctors are being advised today to rethink their marketing to cater for people who have delayed getting medical help due to Covid-19 fears.

Worries about contracting the virus have made as many as 29% of people avoid seeing a doctor or going to hospital despite having a known medical condition, according to results of research this week.

Zegami, an Oxford-based medical image analysis platform, says its research reveals that as many as 254,000 people with cancer may have avoided seeking help. Zegami has recently developed a system to analyse large numbers of mammograms and identify abnormalities

It also found that 16% of people believe they have developed a medical condition since the Coronavirus crisis started but decided not to see a doctor.

Again, this was because of fears about Covid-19. Some 101,000 people believe their condition could be cancer, it believes.

Jane Braithwaite

A private practice marketing expert called the figures ‘terrible’ and told Independent Practitioner Today that private consultants and GPs should gear up to promote their services to thousands of ‘the missing’.

Jane Braithwaite, managing director at Designated Medical, said: ‘We know people are not getting the treatment they need or getting diagnosed. There will be patients searching for private doctors to look after them because the NHS is playing catch-up.

‘Independent doctors need to think how they can get the message over of what they can offer to patients. People will be anxious about costs and treatment because they’ve been NHS in the past.

‘Private doctors, clinics and hospitals need to acknowledge the issues, recognise patients may be looking at their websites for the first time and reassure how they will look after these patients. 

‘It needs to be about giving the best care and managing the cost of it. A doctor who wants to get the message across needs to say they are aware of the cost fears and, acknowledging this is a concern, demonstrate they will offer a service that makes it a worthwhile investment.’   

Of those people who believe they have developed medical conditions during the crisis but have not sought a medical diagnosis for fear of catching Covid-19, 22% say it is linked to their mental health, followed by 13% who say it is a skin condition.  

Some 7% fear they have developed a heart condition during the crisis and 1% – nearly 101,000 people – think they may have cancer, says Zegami.

Chief executive Roger Noble said: ‘Our findings are very alarming.’

Zegami commissioned the market research company Consumer Intelligence to survey 1,021 people from across the UK, representing the UK’s demographic profile. Interviews were conducted online between 13 and 16 November 2020.      

Medical condition  Estimated number of adults in the UK who have been diagnosed with this medical condition but have avoided seeing their doctor/going to hospital during the crisis to reduce their chances of catching Covid-19
Mental health related 3.16m
Skin condition 2.14m
Eye condition 1.38m
Heart condition 1.12m
Ear condition 1.1m
Broken bones 560,000
Cancer 254,600
Other/prefer not to say 8.25m
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