The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has backed a £10m government scheme to improve the occupational healthcare services offered to small and medium-sized businesses (SME).
Up to six NHS Plus ‘demonstrations sites’ will be built across England to drive best practice in the way occupational healthcare services are delivered to SMEs, to help employees return to work when their employment has been interrupted by illnesses or disability.
The new sites will make up the second phase of capital funding from the Department of Health, following an initial £10m cash injection in April this year. The new fund will be available from April 2008.
Kieran O’Keeffe, policy adviser at the BCC, told Personnel Today: “In principle we back the scheme, but the delivery part is critical. It’s all very well announcing the funding, but it has got to be flexible so it meets the individual needs of employers.
“The government needs to make sure the benefits of the scheme reach the people who really need it. The department [of health] should engage with the BCC, local chambers of commerce, primary care trusts and local employers to understand what businesses need.”
Health minister Ivan Lewis said: “This £10m to support new pilot sites will reap huge rewards for employees, the NHS and society in general by having a healthier and more productive workforce.”