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NHS leaders come together to pledge support for staff health and wellbeing

New NHS chiefs will sign up to concerted action at dedicated summit

Caroline White

Monday, 22 April 2013

The chiefs of the new NHS system will meet tomorrow (April 23) to show their commitment to the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce, in what will be the first full gathering of NHS leaders since the reformed health system started on April 1.

After discussion and presentations at the NHS Health and Wellbeing Summit, delegates will sign a pledge supporting this agenda.

The summit has been convened by the NHS Employers organisation and Professor Dame Carol Black, expert adviser on work and health at the Department of Health, in a bid to keep staff health and wellbeing in the NHS top of the agenda.

Following the NHS Health & Wellbeing Review, which was published in 2009, efforts have been made to promote staff health and wellbeing and reduce sickness absence, but more needs to be done, and the Summit is an opportunity to reinforce the aims of the new health and care system, say organisers.

Among those attending the Summit will be health minister Dan Poulter as well as NHS chief executive, David Nicolson, Duncan Selbie, head of Public Health England and Professor Ian Cumming, head of Health Education England.

Other attendees include David Behan, chief executive of the health and social services regulator the Care Quality Commission, David Bennett, chief executive of Monitor, and Jan Sobieraj, managing director of the NHS Leadership Academy.

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “The NHS is a rewarding place to work, supporting patients when care and compassion are what matter most. But sometimes it can be physically or mentally demanding, so it’s important that staff get effective support when they need it – whether from occupational health and other services or from a supportive working environment.”

He added: “It’s great to see the new NHS leaders firmly supporting the health and wellbeing agenda. We all recognise that supporting staff to be alert and healthy helps them to deliver safe, quality patient care. Any well-planned investment into staff health and wellbeing is taxpayer’s money well-spent.”

He said that staff sickness in the NHS had improved over the past decade, but supporting staff health is about more than lowering sickness absence rates. “We need to make sure that we encourage a culture where signs of stress or concern are spotted early and to support staff to take responsibility for managing their own wellbeing,” he emphasised.

Professor Dame Carol Black said: “A challenging workplace can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. But good management and support will almost always catch concerns before they develop, helping people to fully engage with their jobs and enjoy self-esteem and a sense of personal worth.”

She added: “The benefits of strong health and wellbeing programmes in the NHS go far beyond the individual. Staff whose wellbeing and health is well supported deliver better care and are more resilient and better engaged with their role. At a time when the NHS is striving to make the absolute most of its resources, getting this right is crucial. I am very pleased that the NHS leaders in the new system are getting behind this agenda so quickly.”

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