The UK’s poor record on vocational rehabilitation represents an opportunity for private healthcare
Vocational and clinical rehabilitation – especially getting injured and sick people back to work – is an area where the UK lags behind most other economically advanced countries, comments Mark Baylis, of the UK Rehabilitation Council (UKRC).
“The private sector is increasingly moving into the vacuum created by the low level of state provision, in terms of both funding and care provision. The insurance industry led the way with the publication in 1999 of the Rehabilitation Code, which provides a legal framework for care to begin even while the two sides are still negotiating the size of any personal injury damages. The claimant lawyer community, initially unsure of the insurers’ motives, has given the initiative its wholehearted support.
“Employers, meanwhile, are steadily increasing their use of rehabilitation, again using private sector providers. Many can see the advantages in terms of productivity, staff continuity and morale. Again, the insurance industry is playing an important role. Nearly all the big players in the market have embedded an element of rehabilitation into their Employers’ Liability and Income Protection policies. Many go so far as to offer financial incentives, in terms of lower premiums, to employers who use rehabilitation.
“Despite these advances it has to be acknowledged that take-up of rehabilitation has risen at a painfully slow rate – and this is where there is a continuing opportunity for the health care sector. Sickness absence costs the UK economy an estimated £16.8bn annually. This represents direct costs of £595 per employee per day plus indirect costs of £465.
“Employers, including the public sector, remain reluctant to become engaged with rehabilitation. This is partly because of regulatory and taxation obstacles, but mostly it reflects deep-seated inertia and a feeling that it is too much trouble.
“Yet there are some glittering success stories. Last year, for example, Rentokil announced it had saved 30 years of absence as a result of its rehabilitation programme with the enthusiastic backing of the workforce and unions.
“The UK Rehabilitation Council, an umbrella charity for organisations that support rehabilitation, has a shared interest with the private health care sector in seeing more employers embrace the concept. To assist the process we have produced our own standards, which are designed to help people who purchase and commission rehabilitation”
For further press information or if you would like to speak with a UKRC spokesperson, please contact Parm Evans on 07501 462045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org