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Support staff health to improve patient care, says Royal College of Physicians

19 March 2015 - 12:12pm

The health and wellbeing of NHS staff is ‘inextricably linked’ to the quality of care patients receive – yet many NHS trusts have no staff and wellbeing plans in place.

This is according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians published on 13 March.

It states that high quality patient care relies on staff who are not only physically and mentally well enough to do their jobs, but also feel valued, supported and engaged.

But the report found that only 28 per cent of NHS trusts in England currently have a staff health and wellbeing plan in place.

Work and wellbeing in the NHS: why staff health matters to patient care highlights several key areas for improvement.

It advises that trusts, health boards and commissioners should:

  • view maintaining and improving staff health and wellbeing as an investment in the efficiency of their services – rather than as an optional extra
  • enable staff to influence, so they feel empowered to shape their working environment
  • take mental wellbeing seriously, by providing staff with effective line-management support and early intervention

Physios can help support staff

CSP professional adviser Jenny Nissler said the report clearly outlined that ‘supporting the health of NHS staff leads to better patient care’ and that physiotherapists could help trusts achieve this.

She told Frontline: ‘A healthy and engaged NHS workforce is key to patient safety and satisfaction, reducing the organisation’s costs and increasing the working experience and productivity of NHS staff.

‘Physiotherapists can provide support which is both evidenced and cost effective. Early referral to physiotherapy can prevent or reduce sickness absence and enable staff to manage and improve their mental and physical health.

‘And physiotherapists are ideally placed to give public health messages and make every contact with them count.’

Ms Nissler added that the report’s recommendations reinforced the call for a healthier NHS workplace, as outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

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