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Nurses to have health checks as part of £5 million NHS England initiative

Nurses will have musculoskeletal and mental health checks as part of a major drive announced today by NHS England

Nurses will have musculoskeletal and mental health checks as part of a major drive to improve the health of NHS staff unveiled by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens today. 

The £5 million initiative, designed to cut the £2.4 billion a year cost of staff absence linked to poor health, will also include a push for employers to offer healthier food, promote physical activity such as Zumba and yoga classes and reduce stress. 

Musculoskeletal and mental health problems are two of the biggest causes of sickness absence across the NHS. 

In a speech later today at the NHS Innovation Health Expo in Manchester, Mr Stevens is expected to say that NHS staff have 'some of the most critical and demanding jobs in the country'. 

He will say: 'When it comes to supporting the health of our own workforce frankly the NHS needs to get its own house in order.' 

He will add that catering firms need to provide healthier options, junk food should be ditched from hospitals and affordable and healthy options should be served instead, echoing the aims of Nursing Standard's Eat Well Nurse Well campaign. 

Staff, patients and visitors alike will benefit, Mr Stevens will say.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: 'Addressing physical and mental health issues is important and a step in the right direction as it will tackle some of the major causes of stress at work.' 

Ten NHS organisations across the country and NHS England have signed up to pilot the new programme, which has six key actions. 

They include health checks for staff aged 40, providing healthy options in restaurants and vending machines and implementing a workplace wellbeing charter, drawn up by Public Health England. 

The programme will be extended to all NHS employers over the next five years. 

Those with the highest rates of sickness absence and recruitment and retention problems will be targeted in 2016/17.   

The strategy to tackle poor health among NHS staff was outlined in Mr Stevens's NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October 2014. 

 

 

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