Offer overseas staff NHS-equivalent health screening, firms told

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Workers based overseas should have access to the same regular health checks as they would have received had they been living in the UK – and these should be equivalent to the screening offered by the NHS.

The Health Insurance Group said organisations need to focus more on prevention measures, not just treatment, when choosing a health insurance policy for staff working overseas. This is because when working and living in the UK, staff are regularly invited to vital screenings for conditions including cervical cancer, breast cancer and bowel cancer – however this is not necessarily the case for those based abroad.

It emphasised that staff working for the same organisation need to be offered the same level of screening support regardless of where they are based in the world – not only because of the duty of care a company has for its employees, but also meeting employees’ expectations in receiving comparable levels of medical report when they move to another country.

Sarah Dennis, head of international for The Health Insurance Group, reminded employers that screening can identify whether a person has an increased risk of a particular condition, and an early diagnosis can mean a better chance of successful treatment.

“Therefore not only is it in the best interests of employees to be screened but screening can also help manage future absences, long-term sickness and even potential insurance claims for the employer too,” she said.

“As there’s no NHS outside the UK, there is unlikely to be automatic screening offered at no cost for staff working abroad. If employers want to offer the same level of screening to staff overseas as they’d be offered in the UK, they need to proactively ensure it’s made available.

“Unfortunately not every health insurance policy is made equal and, although screening is simple and inexpensive to include, it is not built in to every health insurers’ policy. Employers need to ensure that screening is included, and actively encourage women to make use of it.”

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