NHS staff will be offered exercise classes, such as Zumba, in an attempt to keep them fit and in work in a bid to save money on sick leave. Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, will outline his £5m solution to cut the cost of staff sickness, which is currently £2.4bn a year.
Stevens is proposing that hospitals can help staff stay fit by serving healthy food and running exercise classes, such as Zumba and yoga, alongside offering specialist care to avoid burnout.
He is due to announce that creating healthy and supportive workplaces is not a “nice to have, it’s a must do” at the NHS Innovation Expo conference in Manchester.
Organisations will be asked to provide staff physiotherapy, smoking cessation and weight management services, as well as sports or exercise classes if required or desired,
Stevens will also suggest that organisations should offer health checks for mental health and musculoskeletal problems, which are the two biggest causes of sickness absence across the NHS.
Mr Stevens will say that “NHS staff have some of the most critical but demanding jobs in the country.
“When it comes to supporting the health of our own workforce, frankly the NHS needs to put its own house in order.”
Christina McAnea from Unison has said that “The health and wellbeing of NHS staff at work has a direct impact on patients, and this initiative rightly starts recognising that.
“Addressing physical and mental health issues is important and a step in the right direction as it will help tackle some of the major causes of stress at work.
“NHS staff experience some of the highest levels of stress and violence in the country, and this can no longer be tolerated. Health unions will be working with employers and NHS England on these issues.”