How an Umbrella Company Can Reduce Supply Teacher Sick Days

It’s no secret that the UK education system relies heavily on supply teaching agencies to source and deploy high quality teaching staff at short notice. Over 2 million teaching days were lost to sickness during academic year 2016/17, and most of those days will have been covered by supply teachers.

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Sourcing those teachers is a challenge, requiring specialist skills and experience, which is why so many schools choose to use supply teaching agencies in the first place. But what happens when your carefully chosen and vetted supply teacher is themselves unable to work due to illness?

In an environment where teacher numbers are falling and demand for supply is rising, having high-quality supply teachers be unavailable due to illness is a significant issue. It’s important, for you, your teachers and your schools, that they recover and return to work as quickly as possible.

Access to primary care

Where the teacher has difficulty accessing healthcare, recovery can be delayed and minor health issues can escalate unnecessarily. A recent survey of 760,000 patients found that one in four had to wait a week or more for an appointment with their GP. And with many GPs already oversubscribed and struggling to meet service-level targets, overseas-trained teachers who haven’t registered yet could have even more trouble accessing the care they need.

One possible solution is to use private healthcare, but this is prohibitively expensive. The cheapest confirmed price we could find for a 15-minute private GP appointment was £75 and most private practices charge significantly more. It’s worth noting that consultation costs are rarely covered by private health insurance, even if your supply teacher is lucky enough to have cover.

Using “virtual doctor” services is cheaper but still expensive, with appointments coming in at between £20 and £55. To summarise, one in four UK patients either have to wait at least a week or pay at least £20, just for access to a GP. Many will be unable return to work until they’ve seen a doctor and received treatment.

Orange Genie Education’s solution

As employment experts we’re very much aware of these issues, and we’ve made sure every supply teacher we employ has fast access to healthcare. Our Your Personal Doctor service allows our employees and their families to arrange telephone or online GP appointments at no cost to them. Telephone consultations are available at any time of day, seven days a week, while online webcam appointments are available during office hours. There are no usage limits, and most patients are seen within a few hours of contacting the service.

If the doctor thinks it necessary, they can arrange and electronically authorise prescription medication, which can be delivered directly to the teacher’s home.

Less than two months after launching the service, we’re already receiving feedback suggesting teachers have recovered faster and returned to work earlier as a result of using it.

 If you have questions about this issue or if we can help in any way, please contact our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email

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