Public Health England has estimated that the cost to the NHS of staff absence, due to poor health, is £2.4 billion per year; which accounts for roughly £1 in every £40 of the total NHS budget (and this figure excludes the cost of agency staff to fill any gaps or the cost of treatment).
On September 2nd 2015, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, speaking at the NHS Innovation Expo Conference, announced a £5 million initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of 1.3m health service staff. The aim is to benefit staff and also to save taxpayers’ money.
NHS organisations are to be supported to help their staff to stay well, by encouraging more physical activity, serving healthier food, reducing stress and providing health checks to address mental health and musculoskeletal problems (which appear to be the two biggest causes of sickness absence in the NHS).
The campaign has three pillars:
Pillar One: leading NHS employers in a comprehensive initiative to improve NHS staff health at work.
Pillar Two: a national occupational health service to target help for GPs suffering from burnout and stress.
Pillar Three: national pressure and support for catering contractors and PFI providers to promote healthy eating, by raising standards of food and nutrition for staff / patients.
Simon Stevens announces major drive to improve health in NHS workplace. London: NHS England, September 2nd 2015.
£5 million plan to improve the health of NHS staff. London: NHS England, September 2nd 2015.
NHS England has devised financial incentives to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff in England, with schemes covering mental health, physical activity, physiotherapy, improvement to flu vaccination uptake rates and action against junk food. This guidance involves the new Health and Wellbeing CQUIN, based on commitments made in the NHS Five Year Forward View.
NHS staff health & wellbeing: CQUIN Supplementary guidance. Leeds: NHS England, June 3rd 2016.
Possibly of interest, from BBC News:
NHS staff offered Zumba to stay healthy. London: BBC Health News, September 2nd 2015.