ABS responds to report on health of NHS staff

The Work Foundation, RAND Europe and Aston Business School – the partnership trio of research organisations working closely with the review team to undertake the research and analysis of the evidence behind the Boorman Review (19 August 2009) welcomed publication of the interim version of the report.

The interim review flags up that the NHS – the UK’s largest employer - loses over 10 million working days each year due to sickness absence alone. It also highlights that many NHS workers are working when they feel unwell (described as ‘presenteeism’). And it presents irrefutable evidence on the clear links between workforce wellbeing and key measures such as patient satisfaction and work performance.

Dr Michelle Mahdon, Health and Wellbeing Programme Leader at The Work Foundation said, “We very much welcome the interim report and its recommendations. The level of ‘presenteeism’ in different parts of the NHS identified through the report is an area of concern and deserves further study, as together with levels of absenteeism, presenteeism could significantly affect labour productivity in the NHS. The report makes a compelling case for change and should leave the NHS and government in no doubt as to the need to act now and, crucially, how to act.”

Dr Christian van Stolk of RAND Europe said, “The report makes clear that addressing the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce will have a much wider impact than on the individuals themselves. A healthy workforce is key to delivering effective and efficient healthcare services. It is reassuring to see that the findings and recommendations of the Boorman Review are linked and aligned to the NHS 2010-2011 Operational Framework. We are delighted to see the importance of job quality and the work environment as being vital to improving NHS workforce health and wellbeing. We hope that the findings of the Boorman Review are acted upon with urgency.”

Michael West, Executive Dean at Aston Business School said, “We welcome not only the recommendations to continue monitoring of NHS workforce wellbeing but also the way the review captures staff perceptions about whether the NHS as an employer cares about staff wellbeing. We also endorse recommendations for better data to support both the business case for investment in the future and insights into where to invest. Ongoing monitoring will help to ensure that this review is not a one-off exercise but that staff health and wellbeing becomes embedded in the priorities and focus of the NHS. We believe the focus on training and incentivising the entire workforce to support the health and wellbeing of staff is also an important step forward for future success.”

Michelle Mahdon added, “Finally, we believe the recommendation that the health and wellbeing of staff should be at the centre of the NHS operating framework is core to ensuring the successful response to all calls for action on this agenda. We would encourage further feedback from NHS workers and other stakeholders to contribute to the final report. Implementation of these recommendations will enable the NHS to flourish in the future and to enhance its ability to deliver quality care to its patients and staff.”

The Boorman Interim Review into the health and wellbeing of staff is available at www.nhshealthandwellbeing.org

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