Conservatives in Wales have called on businesses in the devolved nation to invest more in occupational health provision as a way to mitigate NHS waits, ease pressure on the health system and stem the loss of workers to ill health.
Welsh Conservative shadow health minister Russell George has also urged the current Welsh Government Labour administration to do more to encourage firms to put OH cover in place.
Much as elsewhere in the UK, NHS waiting lists in Wales are currently at record levels, with more than three-quarters of a million people waiting for treatment, George pointed out, and waits nearly twice as long as in England.
He also cited figures suggesting an estimated 630,000 people across the UK have left the workforce since 2019, many of them pre retirement age.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot escape the economic difficulties facing the country without addressing issues in the size and health of the workforce,” said George.
“That does not just mean getting people who are fit to work back into jobs, but preventing people leaving it in the first place, especially for health reasons, one of the reasons why the catastrophically long NHS treatment waiting list in Wales is so damaging.
NHS waits and OH provision
“The cost-of-pain crisis doesn’t just hit individuals in the pocket because they are too unfit to work and have to wait so long to be seen – over two years in the case of 55,000 people – but the whole population because there aren’t enough people working to sustain growth and the welfare state.
“So, I would urge Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay to work with businesses across Wales to see how they can be incentivised and supported to deliver occupational health cover so we can get the economy onto a stronger footing, ease the burden on the NHS, and end the cost-of-pain crisis,” George added.