CARS (Health Care and Rehabilitation Centre), a ground-breaking facility in Spain, is the result of the greatest investment made by SEAT in the scope of workers’ health (3.5 million euros). The centre was inaugurated in April 2017, and since then nearly 60,000 procedures have been performed.

This health care centre, which operates from 6 am to 10 pm, is free to all employees of SEAT and other Volkswagen Group Spain companies and includes medical attention in orthopaedics, biomechanics, cardiology, gynaecology, mental health, image diagnosis, physiotherapy, fitness and rehabilitation. It also has a biomechanics lab, which is the largest and most advanced in-company facility of its kind in Spain. Company workers have recently scored the centre with a satisfaction rating of 8.8 points out of 10.

CARS has made SEAT a pioneering company in preventive health services and a role model of a healthy company in Spain.

The most popular requests this first year have been in the areas of orthopaedics and physiotherapy, which were also the first ones put into operation in early 2017. The remaining areas became functional in April, while the full range of one of a kind specialist medical attention was completed in the last quarter of the year with the addition of Mental Health and CARSFit (monitored fitness sessions).

Medical treatment in orthopaedics has considerably reduced the number of medical appointments to external centres. 17,066 consultations have been made at CARS, and in 94 cases surgery was performed without a waiting list. Primary health care provided by the SEAT medical services also reduces diagnosis, treatment and patient recovery time, and it has a very positive effect on prevention. In 2017 alone the number of work-related accidents went down by 48%.

The team of well-known physiotherapist Toni Bové has carried out 26,943 sessions, which works out to an average of 84 rehabilitation sessions every day. This is an added benefit for the employees as they receive attention and treatment conveniently at their workplace and without waiting lists.

The image diagnosis service has performed 3,430 ultrasounds, 1,401 x-rays and 619 mammograms. As it turns out, 85% of female employees had never had one, and they are only performed by the public health system on women starting at age 50. This preventive action offered by CARS detected 9 cases of cancer. SEAT is the only company in Spain that offers complete annual in-company gynaecology check-ups free of charge to its more than 3,000 female employees.

Moreover, the biomechanics lab facility has drawn a lot of attention from engineers and production departments, but not only from within SEAT, due to the advanced technology it is equipped with. It is the only lab in Spain which has 20 cameras that use electromyography techniques to evaluate the health of muscles following an injury. A total of 3,500 studies have been performed with this system. This lab also stands out for its contribution to developing more ergonomic workstations.

The company’s main goals include promoting the health of its employees. The early diagnosis performed at CARS has greater chances of success and lower treatment costs.

The cardiology service is one of the best rated by employees. 1,180 check-ups have been performed so far, and testing has detected 16 cases of heart disease. In light of the significant increase in cardiovascular diseases in society and the ageing of the workforce, prevention in the field of cardiology is an essential pillar of occupational medicine.

SEAT has also added mental health to the list of services provided by CARS, including psychology and psychiatry. 1,700 appointments have been made, of which 79% have led to treatments related with anxiety, depression or insomnia. The goal is to improve employees’ quality of life and reduce the use of medication. Another valuable added benefit of CARS is that psychological care is not covered by public health care.

The latest service to be implemented was CARSFit, which has been very popular among the employees, with a retention rate of 89.3%. CARSFit offers one-hour fitness sessions, monitored by a personal trainer as well as rehabilitation sessions following musculoskeletal injuries.

According to SEAT Vice-president for Human Resources Xavier Ros, “CARS is an incentive for employees and it also makes an impact in other aspects, such as reducing the number of accidents as well as absenteeism, which indirectly also points to enhanced productivity. Ultimately, the investment made in CARS has been a clear leap in the quality of SEAT’s health services”.

A year of commitments

SEAT is currently looking into how to improve the health of its employees through MEDCars, a study on nutrition and healthy living that aims to prove that by following a Mediterranean diet for six months, regularly practicing sport and receiving psychological support help improve health indicators. The study is presently being carried out on 300 employees who receive the full pack of nutritional guidelines, seminars or psychosocial attention, and it indirectly involves 300 more who are benefitting from some of the measures and medical check-ups.