How can contractors stay healthy with NHS waiting lists getting longer?
It has been reported that hospital waiting lists may double in length to 10 million by April 2021. Quite rightly, the NHS has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination roll-out, both of which are causing a backlog of operations and treatments. Of course, 10 million is a worst-case scenario. Chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson points out that there is a “significant problem” which will need to be overcome, but that predictions had suggested that lists would hit 10 million last December but, at the end of February they were still on 4.4 million.
However, even if we’re not near the worst-case situation, 4.4 million is still quite some backlog, so it’s more vital than ever before to make sure we’re staying healthy to look after ourselves, but also others by not adding to a mounting problem. For contractors, this is doubly important. After all, with work starting to pick up again the last thing you want is to have to take time off sick. So, what can contractors do to keep themselves in top shape?
Keep on moving
Lockdown measures are easing, the weather is warming up, and the days are getting longer, so get yourself out for a walk with a friend or family member. You can even enjoy a takeout coffee at the same time now.
Walking is often underrated as exercise, but it’s actually incredibly beneficial for both physical and mental health. The NHS recommends at least a brisk (roughly three miles per hour) 10-minute walk each day, counting towards your recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. It helps keep your heart healthy and build stamina, plus you can have a chat while you do it. If you fancy moving a bit faster, you could always take a look at a programme such as Couch to 5K, which eases you into running over nine weeks.
Oh, and don’t forget to wear your activity tracker, if you have one, so you can count your walk (or run) towards your 10,000 daily steps. A bit of gentle competition with family and friends over who can get the highest daily step total is always a good way to put a spring in your step.
Don’t put off that check-up
Last month it was reported that almost half of people with possible cancer symptoms did not contact their GP during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was for a variety of reasons, including: not wanting to put additional strain on the NHS, not wanting to “make a fuss”, and even fear of catching COVID at the surgery. However, this raised worries that people could be delaying a diagnosis and so reducing the chances of being treated successfully.
This highlights the importance of getting any health concerns seen to by your GP as soon as possible (not just cancer symptoms). If it’s nothing to worry about, you can be sent on your way with some reassurance but, if your doctor thinks you need a referral, you can be put on that waiting list quickly and, hopefully, reduce the amount of time until you’re seen or treated. Not seeing your doctor could leave you worrying unnecessarily and reduce the chances of being quickly and successfully treated if there is anything wrong.
Take out health insurance
Having a good health insurance policy allows you to truly take the burden off the NHS by using private healthcare resources for diagnosis and, depending on your policy, treatment as well. It also gives you the chance to “jump the queue” and be referred and treated more quickly than if you went solely through NHS services. What’s more, health insurance can be tax-deductible. Although you should always check with your accountant for the specifics of your situation.
In the meantime, keep looking after yourself to stay safe and well so that you don’t even have to think about doctor’s appointments and hospital referrals and instead can focus on the joys of lockdown easing and the excitement of your work picking back up again.