NHS White Paper Encourages Staff and Employers to lead the way

The White Paper states that:

  • Power over decisions affecting public health will be devolved from Whitehall to local patients and professionals
  • NHS organisations will work proactively to improve the quality and speed up access to occupational health
  • NHS organisations will also
    • Strengthen board accountability for the management of sickness absence
    • Partner with more employers to help them become “champions of health”

The government plans to provide data and evidence to raise awareness among employers of the clear case for investing in the health of their employees. A paragraph reads “Employers have the opportunity to improve health outcomes in areas from obesity to smoking, substance misuse and physical activity in their employees, employees’ families and the wider community. They can achieve this through establishing a strong cultural lead, strengthening management training in recognising and responding to the health needs of the workforce, and working more closely with others, particularly occupational health and primary care.”

The Director of NHS Employers, Dean Royles, responded to the White Paper by saying that m“We want to work closely with the Department of Health and the human resources community on the development of a more detailed workforce strategy by next autumn. We welcome the white paper’s view that the NHS, as the UK’s largest employer, can lead by example with its programmes to improve staff health and well-being.”

Pamela Bickley, a member of the REC Medical Executive Committee, also went on to say “Whilst we welcome a renewed focus on preventative healthcare and on localised decision-making, it is crucial that increased financial pressures do not impinge on the delivery of front line services. Changes to overall NHS Infrastructure must not draw attention away from crucial staffing issues. Modern and cost effective resourcing strategies must embrace flexible staffing solutions to continue delivering NHS Services. As we have seen in the recent guidance from NHS Employers, Agency budgets are seen as an easy target with which to balance the books. This is both misguided and short-sighted; flexible staffing arrangements are crucial means of delivering services and supporting the core workforce. Not only do they allow Trusts to react to changing demands, but prove cost effective when weighed against the cost of employing permanent staff, or using in house staffing banks to replicate the work of specialised recruitment agencies. As the NHS goes through a period of speedy reform, it has never been more important that Trusts have access to a flexible workforce to manage shifting requirements and demands. Whilst we support many of the proposals in the White Paper,  REC Medical will continue to make the case with the Department of Health that flexible staffing solutions should remain central to NHS delivery,” Pamela Bickley added.

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