The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Staff scheme an all-round winner

An occupational health scheme for NHS staff is proving cost effective and popular with staff and employers.

The staff physiotherapy service at NHS Lothian has cut sickness absence and improved patient care through improved staff well-being. Amanda Jones, the occupational health physiotherapy manager, told the Scottish Board meeting that NHS Lothian had recognised the wisdom of ‘spending to save’ in funding the service.

As well as treating staff with problems by telephone and in person, the scheme also provides services such as workplace assessments, work fitness assessments and return-to-work support.

In 2007, the service managed 1,240 referrals and had a 15-day routine appointment waiting time and a three-day wait for urgent cases. Almost nine out of 10 (87 per cent) were self-referrals.

At discharge, 91 per cent of users said the problem was resolved or greatly improved, and 43 per cent said the service had prevented them taking sickness absence, saving the board more than £300,000 – double that if agency costs were taken into account. Follow up at three and nine months also produced positive results. Among managers, 95 per cent thought the service was excellent or good, with the remainder rating it as satisfactory.

Ms Jones said the service was meeting its aims, which include being easily accessible, enabling staff to stay at or return to work, promoting well-being and being cost effective.

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