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Nurses to receive health checks

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NHS nurses will receive health checks and lifestyle management plans under a pilot scheme outlined as part of the government’s anti-obesity plans.

The £372m strategy, published last week, will include a number of pilots of ‘well-being assessments’ throughout the NHS in the spring.

‘Individual staff [will be] offered personalised health advice and lifestyle management programmes linked to personal assessments of their health status,’ the strategy states.

‘These programmes have been shown to boost employee health and to bring benefits to employers through fewer absences and a more engaged workforce,’ it adds.

A Department of Health spokesperson said there were no further details at this stage but added that the scheme was currently being worked on by the Social Partnership Forum – a working party that consists of NHS Employers, the DH and health unions.

The plans were greeted with mixed reactions by nurses. Jan Sinclair, a matron in surgery at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I’ve always thought keeping fit was really important for nurses. How can you not practise what you preach? Anything that helps nurses keep healthy is a very good idea.’

However, Sheila Urquhart, mental health nurse at Bradford District Care Trust, warned that not everyone might greet it with enthusiasm. ‘On one hand people might think yes, great. But on the other I think there’s this whole issue about the nanny state and personal responsibility, and I imagine obese smoking nurses might think they’re being picked on.’

She also queried who would carry out the checks. ‘You’d hope it would be the NHS but you just fear some private company might be brought in to do it,’ she said. ‘And I just wonder if that’s the best use
of resources when there are wards across the country that are very understaffed.’

Rosie Purves, paediatric nurse at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, added: ‘I hate the idea. It will just make nurses feel like they’re being victimised.’

The plans came the same week that the Queen’s Nursing Institute launched a campaign encouraging community nurses to look after their own health. The Nursing No1 campaign will give information and resources on everything from healthy eating and drinking to mental health and domestic abuse.

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