The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Boorman Review into the health and well-being of NHS staff.
The review’s final report, published on 23 November, calls for all NHS organisations to develop a health and well-being strategy that focuses on prevention. Other recommendations include making senior managers accountable for staff health and early support for staff with musculoskeletal and mental health conditions, such as back pain, stress and depression.
These measures could help save 3.4 million working days - the same as 14,900 extra staff - and up to £555 million a year.
As outlined in the final report, some trusts have already introduced health and well-being services, and nurses are both feeling the benefits and leading on their delivery.
The Occupational Health Physiotherapy Service at Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust was set up in 2005 - in partnership with West Sussex PCT - specifically for nurses and midwives, the largest staff group experiencing musculoskeletal disorders. In the first six months of the service, their sickness absence fell by 39 percent.
At Airedale NHS Trust, occupational health nurses (OHNs) are helping colleagues who present with common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
OHNs have been trained in basic cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and case management to be used during sickness absence interviews and other relevant referrals.
They are now able to help staff with mental health problems without necessarily having to refer them to an occupational health practitioner or their GP.The number of staff referred to the staff counsellor has also reduced because the OHNs are able to address many problems using their basic CBT skills.
The model has been used and evaluated since October 2007, with early indications suggesting that anxiety and depression levels for most users have lowered significantly.