Take the lead, physios told

Evidence shows most NHS staff absences are preventable and a significant proportion relate directly to musculoskeletal issues, keynote speaker Steve Boorman told Congress.

Dr Boorman, who headed the government’s 2009 review of NHS staff health and well-being, set out what he saw as the leading role of physiotherapy in advancing health and well-being in the workplace. Large variations in absence rates currently existed across the NHS, Dr Boorman said. However, a number of case studies showed that early intervention physiotherapy yielded good results, lowering absentee rates and improving patient care. Where money had been spent specifically to address staff musculoskeletal problems, the investment had been repaid by significant overall savings. Organisations that looked after the health and well-being of staff produced better results in terms of performance levels, patient outcomes and regulatory annual health checks. Additionally, patient satisfaction was improved and measures such as acute infection rates were lower. However, the NHS had yet to adopt this approach systematically and a radical re-think of occupational health issues was required. Physiotherapists had a key role in championing the business case for effective early intervention, he said, adding: ‘There is a real opportunity for physiotherapists to walk the talk and lead by example in terms of their own health and well-being.’

Robert Millett

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