NHS fitness

NHS England will be offering the ultimate staff benefit to its workers – better health.

New plans will see staff given easy access to exercise, mental health services and healthier food choices.

Organisations will be asked to offer staff physiotherapy, sports sessions, weight management services – and even Zumba classes.

Further plans range from NHS health checks for over-40s and smoking cessation services, to specialist support to prevent GPs becoming overwhelmed.

There are both financial and ethical reasons for the new scheme, launched by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

For example, Public Health England (PHE) believes stress-related absences to cost the NHS £2.4billion per year – or 2.5% of its annual spend.

On the ethics front, Mr Stevens says he wants the NHS to “set a national example in the support it offers its staff to stay healthy.”

All participating organisations will be offering healthy alternatives in their restaurants, cafes and even vending machines.

The measures targeting GPs have been welcomed by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), who calls the scheme “a real step forward”, owing to its recent concerns over the support available to overworked GPs.

Christina McAnea, of health union Unison, said: “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.”

The scheme will be led by 10 local NSH organisations and NSH England, employing around 55,000 staff. It is estimated to cost £5million.

Will you be dusting off your dancing shoes in the name of better health? What else should the scheme offer its staff? Tell us your thoughts at marketing@athona.com.

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