The government has outlined where the six further NHS Plus-managed ‘demonstration sites’ designed to look at ways of improving access to occupational health among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are to be located.
The six sites are in Merseyside, east London, West Yorkshire, the North East, Devon and Worcestershire, and are in addition to the five demonstration sites already up and running.
Earlier this year, the government announced £11m of capital funding would be made available for the six sites, on top of the £10m it made available for the first five sites last year.
One trust receiving funding is Barts and the London Trust, which has been awarded £3.4m for the redevelopment of a trust-owned property adjacent to the Royal London Hospital. From this, it will provide an OH advice and rehabilitation centre in partnership with Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to help prepare people for a return to work.
The others receiving funding are Aintree University Hospitals NHS Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Primary Care Trust, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Kit Harling, director of NHS Plus, said: “These allocations will provide the opportunity to strengthen working practices and achieve new standards of excellence. This will benefit SMEs, their staff, and the NHS.”
Although they were originally announced before Dame Carol Black’s Working for a Healthier Tomorrow report – which highlighted the possible role of NHS Plus in helping to widen access to OH among SMEs – the Department of Health has linked the new sites to her work.
Health minister Ivan Lewis said: “The funding of these schemes highlights the importance of OH services and their important role in supporting health, safety and wellbeing in both the workforce and the community.”