Monthly Archives

June 2015


How to book a holiday with ‘Peace of Mind’

Summer holidays are the best way to recharge the batteries after a busy period at work, but you need to be smart about how you book your breaks.

Protecting yourself against travel company failure is crucial for peace of mind ahead of your holiday with loved ones and people are increasingly recognising the ATOL certificate, which provides proof you are covered.

A campaign by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has raised awareness of ATOL to new heights, with the body’s 2015 Pack Peace of Mind drive reaching millions of people.

You can see their promotional video for this below:

When you are booking NHS discount holidays you need to make sure you are protected, or you might lose your break and your deposit.

With more people than ever booking breaks over the internet, being able to recognise the ATOL certificate is becoming increasingly important.

CAA data now shows that 83% are now planning to protect themselves financially ahead of their next holiday abroad, which is a substantial rise from the figure of 75% recorded in 2014.

Over half (55%) of the people who were surveyed for the CAA report correctly identified that you should receive an ATOL certificate once a protected holiday has been booked online.

Why ATOL matters

Losing your summer holiday can be devastating and for many families it is the time of the year that they look forward to the most.

With household budgets stretched, it is vital you take the necessary steps to protect yourself financially when booking a holiday by securing an ATOL certificate.

Failure to do so means that if your travel company goes bust before you are due to travel, you could lose all the money you have paid, as well as your holiday.

But with an ATOL certificate, you have the peace of mind that even if the worst happens and your travel company is forced to close down, you will get your money back – allowing you to book another package holiday and save your summer.

Deputy director of consumer protection at the CAA David Moesli stated that the number of ATOL protected bookings is continuing to rise year-on-year.

He said it is “vital” consumers know what to look for, especially with more tourists planning and booking holidays online and many overseas travel companies now selling into the UK.

The symbol to look out for when booking holidays is a white circle with a black trim that features the words ATOL Protected.


Image Credit:
Image by David Jones via Flickr

Check out our exclusive travel deals for NHS staff and see how much money you can save on your next trip.


Do you know the benefits NHS staff are entitled to?

Those working for the NHS are often seen as some of the hardest workers, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its benefits. Holidays, flexible working and childcare support are some of the best known benefits for its employees, but the chances are there are more advantages to being a part of the NHS than you realise.

Pension scheme


The state pension scheme only provides a bare minimum level of support to help people to get by financially in their later years of life. Basic state pension is currently worth just £115.95 a week, which works out at just a touch over £6,000 a year.

It is evidently difficult to survive and have a decent standard of living on such a low amount of money, which is why the NHS pension scheme is so useful. Although it could be even better, the NHS pension scheme is without a doubt one of the strongest in the UK, entitling workers to a pension as well as a tax free lump sum when they retire.



Compared to a lot of workers in the private sector, holidays for NHS staff members are quite generous – although that time off is necessary to recharge the batteries and enjoy some much-needed down time with the family.

All NHS employees are entitled to 27 days of holiday a year as soon as they join the health service, with this figure rising to 29 days after five years. Once a person has been working for the NHS for a decade, they will get 33 days of holiday each year, with their loyalty to the NHS rewarded in the form of extra leave.



Working for the NHS is intended to feel like being part of a family, so it is only fair that the health service supports those who have children. Childcare support is provided for those working within the NHS in the form of childcare facilities that are located in the grounds of many hospitals, which may include nurseries for children aged six months to five years, as well as play schemes for children up to the age of 12.

Housing assistance


It is arguably harder than ever to get a foot on the housing ladder, which is why one of the most important benefits for NHS employees is the provision of housing assistance. Interest-free loans are available to help workers to buy a house and there is also the key worker living programme, which helps staff members to buy affordable housing.

Flexible working


Flexible working is one of the key employment trends of the 21st century and the NHS has tried hard to stay ahead of the curve in this area. Anyone who has a child under the age of six – or a disabled child under 18 – is able to work flexible hours to fit their work around their family commitments. Additional paid leave of three days a year is also available for those NHS workers who provide care for an independent adult.

One of the very best NHS employee benefits is that all workers have the right to apply for flexible working hours, which can be set to gain a much better balance between your work and home life.

Maternity leave

The NHS is one of the UK’s most progressive employers in terms of maternity leave. All women who work in the NHS are entitled to take maternity leave of 26 weeks – although this is subject to some terms and conditions – while new fathers can take ten days paid holiday a year.

Health Service Discounts

As the official NHS employee benefits partner for over 400 Trusts all over the country, we help more than a million NHS staff members to save hundreds of pounds every year.

By taking advantage of this service, NHS staff can save a bundle on their holidays, as well as travel insurance, banking and shopping and membership is free.

If you are not already signed up, make sure you register now to save money through Health Service Discounts.

Registration Link


Post Details Correct at Time Of Publishing. Last Updated 18/06/15


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Men’s Health Week 2015

Men’s Health Week 2015

Men’s Health Week 2015 will take place from the 15th to 21st June.

The NHS promotes a number of awareness days throughout the year, and they are effective in raising public awareness of health issues that may affect particular demographics. The prevalence of social media and other online activities within today’s society means that a simple image or blog post can force people to think about their health and consider the implications of their lifestyles.

Men’s Health Week is important as it is proven that men are less inclined to live a lifestyle that is beneficial to their minds and bodies.

In the UK, one in five men dies prematurely, before the age of 65, whilst statistics show that men are more likely to be smokers, drinkers and overweight. These are factors that can lead to serious health implications such as heart problems, cancer and strokes.

The Men’s Health Manifesto aims to focus on prevention of disease by education and raising awareness of this problem, in order to reduce the numbers of premature deaths in the UK. Hopefully they can encourage men to re-assess their habits and become more active in their daily lives.

By creating a healthy living challenge, men will hopefully feel inspired to make positive changes and become healthier, happier and safer individuals.

The more people who take part in Men’s Health Week the better – the lives of many could be saved. Anyone can sign up to the Men’s Health Week challenge via the website:

Newsletters, updates, and additional information regarding the different ways to get involved in promoting healthier lifestyles will be sent to everyone who pledges to get involved.

If you are a local or national organisation or employer, your participation in Men’s Health Week could make a real difference in changing the lives of those around you.


National Blood Week 2015 – Supporting NHS Blood Banks

The NHS run various awareness days and weeks throughout the year and also support wider global awareness programmes. These are designed to make important topics more visible to the general public. They may promote good practices such as diet or support schemes for mental health. They may also promote the great work taking place in the NHS that sometimes goes unnoticed by the wider public.

One such UK led campaign is National Blood Week, which takes place between 8th and 14th June, culminating with a tie in with World Blood Donor Day on 14th June. National Blood Week includes a programme of events and initiatives aimed at getting more people to give blood for the first time and also encouraging lapsed donors to consider giving again on a regular basis.

NHS Blood are aiming to attract a further 204,000 donors through a broad range of activities. This number is designed to ensure that the service has sufficient, sustainable supplies and coverage across all of the main blood groups.

The central message of the campaign is that giving blood only takes an hour and makes the donor feel really good about themselves and what they have done. The campaign is being communicated across all media, including a clever PR campaign where O’s A’s and B’s have been removed (with permission) from famous and prominent signs across the country. This is to signify diminishing supplies blood types of those letters. This has generated a lot of coverage and activity in social media using the #MissingType hashtag and is helping to attract a younger audience, who are active on social media and can quickly spread the message using different channels.

Health Service Discounts supports NHS awareness days and initiatives such as National Blood Week that help to promote the exceptional work taking place in the NHS. Importantly  our team were out doing their bit for‪ #‎Nationalbloodweek‬ and donating 5 pints of the good stuff.


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May 2015 Round Up – NHS In The News

The NHS was a hotly debated topic during the election – hardly a surprise given the spiralling costs, ever-increasing deficit and cutbacks to services. Here we look back on the recent NHS news, covering the lead-up to the election and some of the stories that hit the headlines.


During the campaign, floating voters who were polled by Good Morning Britain on ITV indicated that they had more trust in the Labour Party on issues including the NHS, housing and education, and that they would rather have public services than tax cuts (The Mirror | May 6th, 2015).

ThetelegraphscreenshotAll the main parties during the election were keen to make promises about the NHS – more doctors, more nurses and easier accessibility via longer opening hours. But no-one mentioned the effects on social care of local government cutbacks (BBC News | May 12th, 2015).

An open letter to the Guardian by several leading medical figures insisted that the NHS needs more funding and investment if it is to continue to function and meet growing demand. During the election, all of the parties failed to pledge enough to meet the £30bn gap (The Guardian | May 6th, 2015).

Once the Tory manifesto was released it was clear that £22bn of ‘efficiency savings’ needed to be made in the NHS, but what did the manifesto promise to deliver, and how? (Huffinton Post | May 10th, 2015).

According to an Ipsos MORI poll, the NHS was more important to voters than the economy or immigration during the run up to the election. But politicians all evaded the question of how extra staffing and seven-day care were actually going to be paid for. Will there ever be an all-party debate? (BBC News | May 1st, 2015).

Despite having been mentioned as a priority during the election by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, The Green Party and UKIP, it seems likely that funding for mental health services will be cut by 8% over the course of this parliament, according to the BBC (BBC News | May 5th, 2015).

guardianscreenshotWith the over-65s accounting for more than 70% of bed patients in hospitals, more older people are being encouraged by physiotherapists to become more active, increasing their independence – could this be the way to save up to £2.3bn a year? (The Guardian | May 13th, 2015).

Families are being encouraged to make better use of their health visitor during their child’s first five years, with a campaign being launched to raise awareness of their role. (Leamington Courier | Mah 9th, 2015).

Most doctors and nurses would agree that having a bespoke, intuitive IT system that would replace the need for repetitive data entry all under one system (with one log-in) would make the working day far easier – but can this be achieved? (Information Age | May 13th, 2015).

Relying on agency doctors and nurses in the NHS not only highlights the shortage of NHS permanent staff but also costs up to the equivalent of £750,000 p.a. for a single post, explaining the £822 million NHS deficit (The Telegraph | May 23rd, 2015).

It seems to be widely recognised that there need to be efficiency savings but where should these be made? Should there be cuts to frontline services? Is tackling the use of agency staff the right thing to do? Most people would agree that NHS staff are too few and their pay too low. NHS discounts go someway to help staff make ends meet, but should the overall issue of fair pay be looked at? Health Service Discounts would like to hear from you with your comments.

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