NHS leaders pledge support for staff health and wellbeing 

Group of hospital staff

23 / 4 / 2013 11.30am

Leaders of the new NHS system today signed pledges supporting the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce. It was their first meeting together since the new NHS system came into being on 1 April 2013.

All committed to ensuring that staff health and wellbeing will be part of how their organisations’ performance is measured, and to improving their workplace culture.

At the NHS Health & Wellbeing Summit in London, the leaders agreed that this support for staff health and wellbeing is crucial if the NHS is to work efficiently, maintain a committed workforce and deliver high quality care at the best value for the taxpayer.

The five pledges symbolise the signatories' commitment to:

  • Foster a culture that promotes better physical and mental health and wellbeing for staff in all workplaces used by their organisation. 
  • Work to strengthen staff engagement both in and through these endeavours. 
  • Include measures of employee health and wellbeing within Key Performance Indicators and other performance monitoring systems within their organisation. 
  • Sign up to the relevant parts of the Public Health Responsibility Deal for their staff. 
  • Exploit the relationships they have with other NHS organisations, sharing expertise and experience in ways of safeguarding and improving staff health and wellbeing.

The summit was convened by the NHS Employers organisation with Professor Dame Carol Black, expert adviser on work and health at the Department of Health, to help keep health and wellbeing top of the agenda. 

The shared statement and the pledges within it come out of a clear recognition of the importance of staff health and wellbeing to the quality of service and productivity required from healthcare organisations. It reinforces the commitment of the NHS Constitution to ensure that NHS staff are supported in their jobs, and acknowledges their responsibilities for employees’ occupational health.

The statement takes up the challenge to promote healthy lifestyles and to prevent ill health by assessing and controlling the risks to employee health, safety and wellbeing. It affirms their determination to tackle discrimination, especially the stigma associated with mental health conditions and it recognises the central importance of sustained staff engagement in these endeavours.

The event heard from health minister Dr Dan Poulter MP about what is expected from the NHS in terms of its commitment to staff health and wellbeing, and from Dame Carol Black who outlined the risks of not taking action. 

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said at the summit:

“The new NHS system needs to find innovative ways to lead as the new national organisations take up their roles. I'm delighted that the first time they have come together is to highlight the importance of staff health and wellbeing to patient care and to commit to doing all they can to support staff. It's a great way to kick off a new approach to joint system leadership. We know investing in staff health is investing in patients.”

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter MP said at the summit: 

“There is clear evidence that healthy staff provide better care for patients. Effective programmes in the workplace and a supportive culture among colleagues help individuals make small steps, like reducing alcohol or smoking, which can make a huge difference in the long run for both staff and patients."

This was the first meeting of the NHS leaders since the new NHS system began operating on 1 April 2013. The attendees were:

  • Dr Dan Poulter MP – minister for health 
  • Sir David Nicholson KBE – chief executive, NHS England 
  • Dean Royles – chief executive, NHS Employers 
  • Professor Dame Carol Black, expert adviser on work and health, Department of Health 
  • David Behan CBE – chief executive, Care Quality Commission 
  • Dr David Bennett – chief executive, Monitor 
  • Professor Ian Cumming – chief executive, Health Education England 
  • Mike Farrar CBE – chief executive, NHS Confederation 
  • David Flory CBE – chief executive, NHS Trust Development Authority 
  • Charlie Massey – director general of external relations, Department of Health 
  • Duncan Selbie – chief executive, Public Health England 
  • Jan Sobieraj – managing director, NHS Leadership Academy

Following the NHS Health & Wellbeing Review (Boorman, 2009), staff health and wellbeing and sickness absence reduction continues to be a priority for many NHS organisations. The review predicted savings of £555 million a year if NHS staff sickness absence could be reduced by a third. Work by the NHS Employers organisation and others provides a range of support both to improve staff health and wellbeing and to reduce sickness absence.

Notes to Editors

More information about Health and Wellbeing, including the business case for it, can be found here

The NHS Employers organisation is the recognised body for employers in the NHS, supporting them to put patients first. See www.nhsemployers.org for more information.

Follow NHS Employers on Twitter at @nhsemployers or follow Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, at @NHSE_Dean.

A full list of NHS Employers press releases and statements can be accessed at our Media Centre.

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