More than two fifths (42%) of working parents and carers of children in Britain have cancelled or were unable to make a healthcare appointment due to work pressures.
Research carried out for Unum – before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – suggests that this stands in “stark contrast” to employees without caring responsibilities. Only 23% of the letter have ever had to cancel or been unable to make an appointment.
The research also shows that almost a third (31%) of parents and carers of children admitted telling their employer they were somewhere else, to cover up the fact they were attending a health-related appointment.
Reliance on face-to-face appointments also takes its toll too with over a quarter (28%) of parents and carers of children having had to take a full day off, either as annual leave or sick leave, for a 1-2 hour healthcare appointment.
The research, conducted at the end of last year, also showed the detrimental effect to the health of their children when waiting for an appointment, as well as the time it can take to be able to book an appointment in the first place.
Almost two thirds (61%) of parents said they have had to wait a day or longer to get a doctors’ or specialists’ appointment for their child and around half (47%) of those questioned reported that their own or their child’s condition had deteriorated while waiting for their appointment.
Unum UK Chief Executive Peter O’Donnell said it is “worrying” that family health is being impacted by work pressures leading to missed medical appointments.
He said: “This year we’ve experienced the perfect storm of working parents and carers also juggling full-time schooling and childcare, and time will tell the long-term health impacts this may have caused.
“If, going forwards, employers want to build a healthy and productive work environment where employee wellbeing is paramount, it’s crucial they help working parents find a way to achieve a better work-health balance.
He said that some form of remote working “likely to be the norm” for many for the foreseeable future and technology will prove valuable in the future.
He said: “By providing remote access to GPs, mental health and physiotherapy services, it’s immediately possible to make life easier for families to manage their healthcare needs. For many, a video call with a medical professional is all that’s needed to provide peace of mind, knowing that their own health is being looked after, as well as that of the children in their care.”