Trust boards must take the lead in promoting the health and wellbeing of staff, according to a report backed by the NHS chief executive, the Royal College of Physicians and Faculty of Occupational Medicine.
As much as 40% of the NHS budget is spent on its 1.4m employees, with a healthy workforce relied upon to deliver first-rate patient care.
The Health and Work Development Unit, a partnership between the faculty and the RCP, is keen to build on the 2010 national audit in the latest staff health improvement project.
Two years ago, the audit revealed some trusts had different interpretations of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence public health guidance for the workplace.
Less than 10% of trusts had a policy in place to combat obesity among employees which was approved by the board, while just 37% of boards had agreed a plan to support the mental wellbeing of staff.
A comprehensive approach to staff health and wellbeing was seen in only 44% of trusts.
Jude Williams, project lead, said: “The Boorman review in 2009 told us that staff health improvement can have a positive impact on patient care. There is a series of NICE guidance which is evidence-based, with recommendations aimed at all employers, for improving staff health and wellbeing.
“All NHS trusts know they ought to be implementing the NICE guidance; but the 2011 NHS Staff survey found that less than half of the NHS workforce believes that their job is good for their health and 30% of staff report they have suffered work-related stress in the past 12 months.
“This project report shows that the NICE guidance aimed at improving staff health can be complied with and explains how that can be achieved through sharing examples of the best practice taking place in acute and mental health trusts in England.”
Proactive board level leadership, strong organisational values that explicitly link to staff health and staff engagement are among the elements required for successful implementation of the guidance, the report said.