UKIM Launch Acquisition Strategy to Battle UK’s ‘Sick Economy’

We're increasing our capacity to support businesses with Occupational Health services nationwide.

UKIM Occupational Health & Wellbeing (UKIM), has announced the double acquisition of two specialist Occupational Health providers to help boost the UK economy through their burgeoning strategy to ease the nation’s ‘sick economy’.

UKIM, established in 2003 and now a leading health services provider, has purchased Northamptonshire-based Washington House Occupational Health and Cumbria-based Choose Occupational Health to face the economic crisis head-on.

These two acquisitions are just the start of a larger acquisition strategy for a proactive push to help businesses of all sizes help employees at work, thus supporting the UK's 'sick economy’. The company has recently developed an on-demand occupational health solution specifically targeted at removing access barriers and helping the SME sector to get OH support as and when they need it. Employers and organisations are demanding services to help get staff back to work and tackle long-term sickness. UKIM‘s geographical expansion will help achieve this.

The State of the UK’s ‘Sick Economy’

The UK is in the midst of an economic crisis made worse by millions of unhealthy and ill workers. In February 2024, the Office for National Statistics released some shocking figures. The number of people saying they are inactive due to long-term sickness is now 2.8 million, which is an increase of more than 200,000 in the past year and of 700,000 since the pandemic started in 2020. This has led to the UK being the worst performer in the G7 for workforce participation since Covid.

On top of that, a report by the Office of National Statistics found that one in five working-age adults in the UK is deemed not to be actively looking for work. It means 9.2 million people aged between 16 and 64 in the UK are not in work or looking for a job. The UK's economic inactivity rate was 21.8% between November and January, marginally higher than a year earlier.

In March, the Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank focused on improving the living standards of those on low-to-middle incomes, released a new report on the situation. It found that the number of people leaving the workforce due to long-term sickness is at its highest level since the 1990s.

Adults economically inactive due to ill health rose from 2.1 million in July 2019 to a peak of 2.8 million in October 2023. "Younger and older people together account for nine-tenths of the rise in overall economic inactivity, which could have serious effects both on individuals’ living standards and career paths," said Louise Murphy, senior economist at the Foundation.

Regarding the 'sick economy’ and their recent partnership with UKIM, Clinical Nursing Director, Joanna Robbins, of Washington House, said: “The UK is facing an unprecedented crisis in workforce health. The post-Covid figures of millions out of work are alarming, but we at Washington House know that our partnership with UKIM will help the situation. By joining this leading provider of health solutions, we will deliver a safer and healthier workforce.”

Managing Director at Choose Occupational Health, Sandra Holliday, added: “At Choose, we have always been committed to ethical practices and values, and by combining our strengths and expertise with UKIM, we are well positioned to be at the forefront of supporting Britain’s ‘sick economy’.”

How UKIM Occupational Health & Wellbeing is Helping the ‘Sick Economy’

The UK’s developing ‘sick economy’ has increased the demand for support in and around workplace sickness. This has led to UKIM’s recent geographical expansion and acquisitions. There is a growing need among employers and organisations for services that help get staff back to work.

With headquarters in Durham and a prominent provider of medical services to the legal, insurance, education, local authority, blue light, and automotive manufacturing sectors, UKIM has taken the step to increase their clinical footprint in the health services market with these key investments. As part of a new acquisition strategy, the move will see UKIM expand into new markets and enhance its clinical capabilities and footprint.

The organisation has locations in Durham, Northampton, and Carlisle, with the former being the company’s HQ. With these recent acquisitions, UKIM is expanding to help more companies in the near future.

The firm currently has 180 employees, with plans to double their workforce within two years.

Alan Ballard, UKIM Partnership Director, said: “Both of these acquisitions align seamlessly with our long-term goal of being the health services provider of choice and will enhance our ability to deliver services that drive real value for organisations across the UK.” He added: “It’s an exciting time for us at UKIM as we continue to bring ground-breaking mental health and workplace wellness products to the market. We have just taken a further step in our aim to support the UK economy by keeping people in work or facilitating a return to work after absence with the launch of UKIM Occupational Health On-Demand. We have designed this solution to remove the barriers to accessing OH assistance and provide the SME sector with OH and mental health support for their employees as and when they need it.”

A little about Washington House Occupational Health 

Established in 2007 and with a team of Occupational Health Physicians, Specialist Nurse Advisors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Counsellors, Technicians and support staff, Washington House Occupational Health Ltd works in partnership with its clients to provide, flexible, tailor made occupational health solutions. Based in Brackley, Northamptonshire and with a passion to understand business needs fully, their aim is to provide relevant, effective, quality driven occupational health services and support. Their client base is ever growing and includes many sectors of industry; such as engineering, food manufacturing, F1 race teams, construction, ground work, schools, dentists, GP Foundations and healthcare providers.

A little about Choose Occupational Health

Based in Carlisle, Choose is committed to helping organisations to create a happier and healthier workforce through the provision of high quality Occupational Health services. Established in 2011 and offering reliable, independent and tailormade services to businesses and organisations, regardless of sector or size, Choose work in partnership with their clients to provide clear and trusted advice, as well as access to a range of services that help an organisation support the health and well-being of their staff. With a proven track record, their services enable companies to reduce absence costs, increase staff retention, improve productivity and increase profitability.