Need to know

25 April 2016

Three big health stories from recent weeks – and how they affect small businesses.

The UK’s maturing workforce

Why has this been in the news recently?

The population of the UK is getting older. The Office for National Statistics says that, by 2024, the average age in the UK is predicted to rise from 40 to 40.9 years, while by mid-2039 more than one in 12 people may be aged 80 or over1. That means employees of the future are increasingly likely to be responsible for both dependant children and elderly relatives needing care. Law firm Barcan+Kirby recently published their Citizen 2025 Report about how the UK will deal with an ageing population2, concluding that “this will put huge pressure on pensions and health spending with future generations paying for care of the elderly (both outright and through their taxes)”3.

What are the takeaway points for small business employers?

  • Workers aged 45-54 make up almost a quarter (24%) of the average small or medium-sized business, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, so understanding the pressures of this age group could help you to manage them better4.
  • According to the results of a survey of 1,500 employees by human resources consultancy Mercer, workers experiencing high levels of stress (for example, due to the financial strain of elderly care and young children) could have a direct impact on productivity5. Read our article on the business case for a dementia-friendly workplace.
  • Bupa offers a confidential counselling service for your employees who need help with issues at home that are affecting their performance.

Hip replacements for the under-60s

Why has this been in the news recently?

In England, there was a 76% increase in hip replacements performed on people aged 59 and under in the last decade, a Royal College of Surgeons analysis of Hospital Episode Statistics data has revealed6. With 93% of all hip replacement procedures taking place as a result of osteoarthritis7, it can be suggested that those suffering from the disease – a symptom of which is chronic hip pain – are unable to remain active, so are opting to undergo hip replacement surgery.

What are the takeaway points for small business employers?

  • Studies have found a link between osteoarthritis pain and a loss of work productivity. Of the 57,512 participants of a European study, 3,750 had reported that they suffered osteoarthritis, 43.6% of whom were based in the UK. The study concluded that the impact of osteoarthritis on work productivity is significant, as 7% reported that it had caused absenteeism8.
  • According to the CIPD’s Absence Management Report 2015, which surveyed 578 UK organisations, even though larger organisations are recording higher levels of absences, the report concludes that absenteeism is likely to be more disruptive in smaller organisations, as there are fewer people to provide cover9.
  • Bupa customers have direct access to physiotherapy advice and treatment, usually without the need to see a GP. Call 0330 134 6724^, and a physiotherapist will call you back and provide you with self-management advice and tailored exercises or refer you for face-to-face treatment.

Women prioritise work over visiting their GP

Why has this been in the news recently?

Ovarian Cancer Action has launched the ‘Speak up, listen up!’ campaign for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, in an effort to encourage more women to be honest and speak up about their health10.

What are the takeaway points for small business employers?

  • Over 25% of the 2,000 women who were surveyed by Ovarian Cancer Action admitted that they prioritise their work over visiting a doctor when they are ill or when they need a check up11.
  • Bupa offers health assessments that equip employees with the knowledge to take control of their health for the long term. If you’re interested in a health assessment, please fill in your details in our contact form.

Please note: direct access is subject to your individual underwriting terms. Pre-existing conditions are normally excluded.

What's next?

^ Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. We may record or monitor our calls.


  1. National Population Projections: 2014-based Statistical Bulletin
  2. Barcan+Kirby: Our research: Citizen 2025 -
  3. Barcan+Kirby: Our research: Citizen 2025 (page 7) -
  4. Age diversity in SMEs: Reaping the benefits -
  5. Mercer research: financial stress explodes beyond ‘sandwich generation’ employees -
  6. 76% increase in hip replacements for those 59 and under: Royal College of Surgeons
  7. National Joint Registry, 12th Annual Report 2015
  8. Kingsbury, SR, Gross, HJ, Isherwood, G and Conaghan, PG (2014) Osteoarthritis in Europe: impact on health status, work productivity and use of pharmacotherapies in five European countries. Rheumatology, 53 (5). 937 - 947. ISSN 1462-0324
  9. Absence Management 2015, CIPD -
  10. Speak up, listen up! Ovarian Cancer Action -
  11. Ovarian Cancer Action