NHS staff will now have the option of seeing a physio, counselling, yoga, and Zumba classes in an effort to increase employee wellbeing and cut down on sick days.
The average NHS staff member takes an average of 14.82 sick days a year, more than three times the UK average. In monetary terms, it equates to £2.4billion a year; 2.5% of their budget, or £1 in every £40.
Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, will speak at the NHS Innovation Expo today. He will say that it is up to the NHS to provide their staff with nutritious food, advocate exercise, and reduce stress levels.
Stevens will say: “NHS staff have some of the most critical but demanding jobs in the country. When it comes to supporting the health of our own workforce, frankly the NHS needs to put its own house in order.
“At a time when arguably the biggest operational challenge facing hospitals is converting overspends on temporary agency staff into attractive flexible permanent posts, creating healthy and supportive workplaces is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-do.
“And at a time when the pressures on GPs have never been greater, we need to extend the local practitioner health programmes that have been shown to help GPs stay healthy and get back to work when sick.
“Equally, it’s time for PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contractors and catering firms to ‘smell the coffee’ - ditch junk food from hospitals and serve up affordable and healthy options instead.”
This scheme has received £5million worth of funding, and will target 1.3million workers. It will also include an occupational health service for GPs suffering with stress or burnout.
Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the news but highlighted the stresses her colleagues are under: “Fatigue, stress, and eventually burnout among family doctors is increasing, to the detriment of their own health, and this could have a devastating impact on the care that our patients receive."