201 million hours lost to healthcare appointments in the last year

03 February 2020

Benefits provider, Unum, has conducted research into the extent of time taken off by employees in relation to health appointments, and the findings suggest that UK businesses lost 201 million hours, or the equivalent of £900 million in paid sick leave in the last year.

The research surveyed 2,031 full-time (30 hours or more per week) UK workers, aged 18 and over, which highlighted that the average full-time worker made 3.1 visits to their GP and 1.7 visits to specialists, equating to an average of 8.3 hours spent at appointments each year.

Survey results showed that in 2019:

  • 77% of workers confirmed that their productivity levels at work were lower whilst waiting for appointments
  • 60% reported that taking time off to attend appointments was ‘stressful’ to them, with 25% cancelling appointments due to workload or personal issues
  • 21% of employees have taken a full day off to attend an appointment lasting one to two hours
  • 201 million hours, or £900 million, in paid sick leave has been lost by UK businesses as a result of employees taking time off to attend health appointments
  • 62% of full-time workers who have had to cancel healthcare appointments reported that their health had deteriorated to some extent as a result

Whilst the survey estimated that companies lost approximately £900 million in paid sick leave, it also revealed the hidden costs to employers, in terms of employee productivity being affected during the period in which employees had to wait to attend healthcare appointments.

UK Chief Executive of Unum, Peter O’Donnell commented:

“Good employers understand the importance of enabling workers to attend their health care appointments promptly and it’s concerning that so many feel stressed about taking this time out.

 What’s even more worrying is the number reporting worsening conditions either due to missing an appointment or having to wait a long time to get the help they need.”


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