Eat Well Nurse Well

NHS adopts the carrot approach to staff wellbeing – but will it pay off?

Employers are to be offered grants in return for tackling stress, back injury, burnout and unhealthy eating among their staff, writes Chris Longhurst

Employers are to be offered grants in return for tackling stress, back injury, burnout and unhealthy eating among their staff, writes Chris Longhurst.

Abstract

NHS England is to offer trusts financial incentives to boost their employees’ wellbeing.

Hospitals and other providers will be funded to provide physiotherapy, occupational therapy and counselling for staff who need them. They will be encouraged to organise physical activities such as fitness classes or running clubs, and to improve the quality of food available to staff, day and night.

Public Health England says staff sickness absence is costing the NHS £2.4 billion a year, which amounts to £1 in every £40 of the total NHS budget.

Department of Health figures suggest that of the 1.3 million staff working in the NHS in England, 300,000 are obese and a further 400,000 are overweight.

An NHS England spokesperson described the financial incentives – trusts can apply for a share of a £600 million fund – as a ‘bonus’ on top of the work they already do to promote workforce wellbeing.

One way to qualify for a grant is to show an increase in staff influenza vaccination rates. One of the initiatives is to increase the overall vaccine uptake rate in the NHS from about 50% to 75%.

NHS England will use the annual staff survey to help it decide which trusts receive funding. It will look for examples of staff stating that their employer is addressing problems such as work-related stress and back injuries.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 30, issue 29

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