Editorial

Get your share of the NHS healthy staff fund

A £600 million initiative has been launched to help NHS staff in England lead healthier lives. Nurses, healthcare assistants and other employees will be offered greater access to workplace physiotherapy services and mental health support, with an emphasis on reducing back injuries and work-related stress.

A £600 million initiative has been launched to help NHS staff in England lead healthier lives. Nurses, healthcare assistants and other employees will be offered greater access to workplace physiotherapy services and mental health support, with an emphasis on reducing back injuries and work-related stress.

Action is also promised on improving the eating options available to staff and visitors, not least for nurses working nights. NHS trusts will be expected to stop allowing the advertising of sugary drinks and the promotion of foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt. They will also be given incentives to increase uptake of the influenza vaccine among staff, with the aim of increasing rates from 50% to 75%.

The amount on offer is significant, so now is the time to lobby managers

This is excellent news, and a victory for the Eat Well, Nurse Well campaign run by Nursing Standard during 2014-15. The next step is to ensure NHS trusts and other health service employers rise to the challenge, because they will only receive their share of the funding if they take action. The amount of money on offer is significant, equating to £430 for each member of staff, so now is the time to lobby senior managers to ensure you and your colleagues benefit.

If you receive anything less than an enthusiastic response, then arm yourself with this compelling statistic to support your case: the cost of staff absence due to poor health is an astonishing £2.4 billion a year. While that cost will never be eliminated, it could be reduced significantly if only employers took greater care of their staff.

The only concern about initiatives such as these is that those staff who may struggle to maintain a healthy weight or to lead a healthier lifestyle are made to feel guilty or inadequate in some way. There is no need for that to be the case. This is an opportunity to engage everyone in the benefits of looking after themselves so that they are better able to look after others.

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