Calls for UK businesses to focus on occupational health and help stem soaring employee sickness rates

Article date: 20 June 2007

  • Dame Carol Black opens state of the art occupational health clinic in London

Norwich Union Healthcare is calling on UK businesses to focus on providing improved occupational health support to employees and help stem soaring sickness rates with the opening of its latest occupational health clinic in London today.

Absenteeism currently costs UK businesses around £13 billion1 a year, and research conducted by Norwich Union Healthcare reveals that nine out of 10 GPs (94%) blamed companies for failing to take responsibility for employee health and wellbeing.

The research by the insurer also found that doctors expected this figure to rise even more unless employers help workers manage their health.  Meanwhile HR directors questioned as part of Norwich Union Healthcare's research stated that the major health problems affecting workers included stress, back problems and depression - all problems that can create issues in the work place.

However, only 38% of companies said employee wellbeing was a priority and 40% of companies didn't have any system in place for employee health management. The majority (70%) of companies simply didn't consider employee wellness and health as their responsibility.

Occupational health is becoming an important topic for the Government Health, Work & Wellbeing Strategy and a major focus for research by Employee Benefits, CIPD, HSE and CBI, meaning that employers are coming under pressure to act in this area. With this in mind, Norwich Union Healthcare is urging businesses to act now to avoid the crippling effect of rising sickness rates and is actively offering real solutions to employers.

Today sees the launch of Norwich Union's latest occupational health clinic in central London. Conveniently located for businesses within the City, this will be the seventh dedicated occupational health clinic to open, further extending the network across the UK. This network is enhanced by 160 approved medical centres across the UK and the fleet of 30 purpose-built mobile health screening units which bring on-site expertise to any business.   

London's new Bury House clinic offers the highest standard of services including, executive health screenings, pre-employment medicals, pro-active absence and sickness management and drug and alcohol testing. The clinic has a relaxed environment where employers and their employees can benefit from working with occupational health experts investigating potential areas that might be affecting their business.

Dame Carol Black, national director for Health and Work, said: "Preventing people from becoming ill at work and acting to support and rehabilitate those who do become ill is crucial in today's society. A healthy workforce creates benefits across the board for individuals, for business, for the economy and for a strong society. That is why I welcome the opening of Norwich Union's new occupational health clinic in the city. Initiatives like this are important to create wellness at work."

Gil Baldwin, managing director of Norwich Union Healthcare, comments: "As one of the UK's leading providers of occupational health and wellness solutions, we are very excited about the opening of our brand new occupational health clinic in London. With this, our seventh opening2, we are keen to emphasise the importance of occupational health to UK businesses and help them protect and ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees."

Norwich Union's new occupational health clinic is located at Bury House, Bury Street, London, EC3A 5AR.


Media contacts:       
Emilie Lien or Melanie Corbett, Lexis Public Relations on 020 7908 6488

Norwich Union Press Office contacts:
Emma Broadbent: 01904 452525

Notes to editors:

1Annual CBI Absence Survey, May 15 2006
2The six other clinics are based in Liverpool, Maidenhead, Wolverhampton, Wimpole Street in London and at two separate sites in Birmingham.

About the research
Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned Vanson Bourne Ltd to conduct research amongst 214 businesses from across the UK in May/June 2006. Businesses were split equally between those with 205-1,000 employees and 1,000 or more employees.

About Norwich Union Healthcare
Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcare arm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of income protection and private medical insurance products that cover over 980,000 lives. It is one of the largest providers of income protection and private medical insurance in the UK.

Norwich Union Occupational Health, a sister company of Norwich Union Healthcare, provides Occupational Health Solutions services to a wide range of industry sectors. By utilising our large fleet of purpose built mobile clinics and approved medical centres, staffed by a team of experienced Occupational Physicians and nursing staff, all our Occupational Health services are designed to meet the individual needs of our clients.

Norwich Union Healthcare is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and is a member of the Association of British Insurers and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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