NHS Plus pilot site cuts sickness absence rates by 40%

An NHS Plus pilot project has cut sickness absence rates at a Yorkshire hospital by more than 40% since it was launched last year.

The Centre for Occupational Health and Wellbeing at York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of 10 pilot sites being run by NHS Plus to evaluate better ways of delivering workplace and occupational health to employees.

The trust’s initiatives have included closer working with HR, line managers and staff to cut sick pay costs by £200,000; access to a ‘one-stop’ physiotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy services; better local marketing and the formation of a dedicated business team.

The trust also invested £100,000 to develop a multidisciplinary team of a specialist nurse, physiotherapist, counsellors, a clinical psychologist and HR manager as well as a range of physical and psychological rehabilitation packages.

Prior to the pilot going live, quarterly absence rates at the trust were 5.13%, at an estimated cost of £3.7m. Now the number of cases of long-term (or four weeks-plus) sickness absence was down 42%, with the number of staff absent for three months or more down 46%, said NHS Plus.

The number of long-term absent staff referred to the centre and its OH team had increased from 68% to 92%, it added. Revenue earned by the unit had also helped to fund a new consultant occupational health physician, NHS Plus said.

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