NHS employers and unions to review staff sickness and injury

NHS Employers and trade unions have agreed to undertake a joint review of how staff sickness and injury is managed in the health service.

The review will look at the existing Ill Health Retirement Benefit and NHS Injury Benefit schemes. It will also explore measures to:

  • Reduce preventable staff sickness and injury.

  • Improve occupational health services in the NHS.

  • Support staff in taking on alternative duties or working part-time if they can no longer carry on with their former duties due to sickness or injury.

  • Ensure staff who retire from the NHS, are able to leave on the most appropriate benefit

Jeremy Orr, NHS Employers’ project manager for the review, said: “The most common causes of ill health retirement are musculo-skeletal injury and mental health problems such as stress and depression. Very often people want to continue working and we are keen to ensure they are able to stay in the NHS. However, we know that they will often need extra support.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to take a holistic approach to managing staff sickness and injury. This will include looking at how it can prevented in the first place, but also how staff can be supported to remain in work – perhaps by taking on a different role or by working part-time.”

Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the holistic approach of the review.

“Preventing sickness, improving occupational health services and supporting staff to continue working in a different way if unable to carry on in their substantive role are positive measures to manage and reduce absence,” she said.

“This review is particularly timely given findings from the NHS Staff Attitude Survey 2004 revealed that 44% of NHS staff had suffered some injury or illness as a result of problems at work to do with moving and handling, needlestick and sharps injuries or exposure to dangerous substances for example.”

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