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Trusts must reduce staff stress to get bonus payments

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NHS providers will be expected to reduce stress and musculoskeletal problems among their staff to access incentive payments next year.

The national “commissioning for quality and innovation” (CQUIN) scheme will link significant chunks of trusts’ income to workforce health and wellbeing measures in 2016-17, according to guidance published by NHS England.

Performance will be measured through the annual NHS staff survey, or by the extent to which staff are offered support such as physiotherapy or mindfulness courses.

Further payments will be linked to the uptake of flu vaccinations for frontline staff and healthy food initiatives, such as bans on price promotions and advertising for sugary drinks and foods.

The CQUIN payment framework enables commissioners to reward excellence, by linking a proportion of English healthcare providers’ income to the achievement of local quality improvement goals.

The move to include staff wellbeing targets in the framework appears to be a step towards NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens’ ambition for a sugar tax within NHS properties by 2020. NHS England also recently announced a £600m fund earmarked for efforts to improve staff health.

Part of the CQUIN payments will also depend on trusts submitting data on existing contracts with food and drink suppliers – covering restaurants, cafés, shops, food trolleys, vending machines or any other outlet that serves food and drink.

In total, CQUIN payments of up to around £1.5bn will be available in 2016-17, also including locally determined targets.

Other new payments will be introduced to help meet the 62 day waiting target for cancer treatment and to reduce the use of antibiotics.

Incentives around sepsis and improving the physical health of patients with severe mental illness in 2015-16 have been retained, although the detailed targets are slightly different.

Current incentives to improve services for dementia, acute kidney injury and urgent and emergency patients have been removed from the scheme.

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