A further £10m is to be injected by the government into NHS Plus to finance experimental sites looking at how occupational health can better deliver services to businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The funding follows the £10m put into the service in April to fund five demonstration sites around the country.
The latest cash injection, which will be available to the service from April 2008, will be used to support a further three to six demonstration sites, announced health minister Ivan Lewis.
Expressions of interest are being invited from occupational health organisations by 15 October and full bids must be put in by 31 January 2008.
The successful sites will be chosen by the end of March 2008, said the Department of Health.
The five current NHS Plus demonstration sites are being run by Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and York Hospitals NHS Trust.
They include, on the Cambridge site, the development of a regional centre of excellence at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to focus on the hazards presented by new technologies.
Health minister Ivan Lewis said: “We want people to be healthy at work and for businesses to flourish. The pioneering occupational health support provided by NHS Plus through innovative projects is the kind of thing that will make the difference.”
Dr Kit Harling, NHS Plus director, said the new money would be particularly helpful in targeting small- and medium-sized business.
“This fund offers a further opportunity to develop high quality and innovative occupational healthcare services for these businesses.
“We need to instil real changes in their occupational health practices and this new funding has the power to do this,” he added.