The government has accepted in full the recommendations in Dr Steven Boorman’s final report on the health of NHS staff published last month.
The report says that a shift in the NHS towards a preventive approach to staff health and wellbeing could save 3.4 million working days, equivalent to 14,900 extra staff, and up to £555m per year.
Health secretary Andy Burnham said: “We want to see the NHS become an exemplar for other organisations to follow, valuing its employees as it values its patients. Savings of up to £555m per year that we can reinvest in the NHS will undoubtedly improve the quality of patient care and importantly in the current economic climate, save the taxpayer money.”
The final report summarises the three main changes needed to transform the wellbeing of NHS employees:
NHS organisations are to have a prevention-focused health and wellbeing strategy in place for all staff.
Senior managers should be accountable in each organisation for the health and wellbeing of staff, which will be measured in annual assessments of NHS performance.
There should be early interventions for staff with musculoskeletal and mental health problems, and support for early return to work.
The final report draws on case studies and responses from NHS organisations following the publication of Boorman’s interim report in August. It clarifies the priorities emerging from the original report.
Individual NHS trusts will be required to undertake risk assessments on staff health and wellbeing, and this will need “a remodelling of occupational health services in many places, and should provide a catalyst for looking critically at both the services that occupational health departments currently provide and the way in which they provide them”.
The report reiterates the need for traditional OH to get input from other professionals including ergonomists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, as well as OH technicians.
The report repeats the call for core early intervention services as part of the minimum service specification for staff health and wellbeing, and says there should be a nationally agreed service standards for this.