Health service HR experts have welcomed the findings of the Boorman review into improving the health and wellbeing of NHS staff, but warned that the measures will only work with senior management buy-in.
The report outlined 20 recommendations for NHS organisations which could help save the service up to £555m a year and 3.4 million working days – equivalent to 14,900 extra staff.
The Department of Health accepted the proposals and has set aside £6.5m to set up the national systems required.
Recommendations include identifying board-level champions and making senior management accountable for health and wellbeing by measuring this as part of the annual assessments of NHS performance. In addition, staff health and wellbeing should also be put at the heart of manager training, development and appraisal, the review said.
Kelvin Cheatle, president of the Healthcare People Management Association said the report shared the burden for managing employee health and wellbeing across all parties – something those in HR would welcome.
But he warned that many senior managers were often scared of staff sickness absence recognising it as a “fertile ground” for conflict and often left it to HR to sort out.
“HR will have to lead and support training for those [senior managers] who find managing these issues difficult,” he said.
“Like all new initiatives finding the time and money to implement it properly is always an issue. We all know staff absence translates to real costs particularly for frontline jobs like nursing. If we can make this better and get absence down, this isn’t a political conundrum around money, this will make a real difference.”
Ken Gold, director of personnel at Moorfields Eye Hospital, agreed: “It all needs management buy-in. There could be conflict between maintaining the service and meeting new demands from the report but this must be an issue which has a long(er) time frame. I see it as an opportunity for investment – time and perhaps money – the benefit of which we will reap in later years.”
Kate Harris, commercial director of healthcare recruitment agency Pulse said: “More investment needs to be made in the training and development of new staff and up-skilling staff already in the system.”