Fit for Work

Empactis has been pleased to work regularly with The Fit for Work Team, based in Leicester, a non-profit social enterprise that arose from pilots of the Fit for Work Service concept in 2010. They have a multi-disciplinary team working on a broad range of projects seeking to support the work and health agenda to improve the health of the working age population and reduce health inequalities in the East Midlands.

I commend them for reminding their clients that simple health checks are important – this is the week that Blood Pressure UK are setting up hundreds of “Pressure Stations” across the UK encouraging adults to have a blood pressure check – as many as 1 in 4 may have high blood pressure and not realise it. Diseases caused by high blood pressure cost the NHS over £2 billion every year, and by reducing the blood pressure of the nation as a whole by 5mmHg over 10 years we could avoid £850m of NHS and social care spend and release 45,000 quality adjusted life years. Raised blood pressure is an important risk factor for a number of serious conditions listed below and many employers have not recognised that common chronic medical conditions impact on workforce performance.

In her speech at the award ceremony for Britain’s Healthiest Workplace last night, Dame Carol Black reminded the audience of businesses seeking to improve their worker’s health that the consequence of working longer and ageing workforces meant more staff potentially have long term medical conditions that can result in more absence, lost productivity, poorer quality, higher turnover and other negative business consequence.

Raising awareness does not cost much and The Fit for Work team’s simple 10 point list (copied below with their permission) may help remind that blood pressure is important:

  1. In 1733 Reverend Stephen Hales recorded the first blood pressure measurement on a horse.
  2. An ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. This doesn’t change as we age.
  3. Having high blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke, developing kidney disease and early onset dementia.
  4. High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms. Just because you feel fine doesn’t mean your blood pressure is healthy. This is why you should get it checked at least once every five years.
  5. Latest evidence suggests that the top number (systolic) is more important than the bottom number (diastolic) as research has shown it’s a better indicator of the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  6. It’s easy and affordable to take your own blood pressure at home using an automated device.
  7. Potassium rich foods such as bananas and sweet potatoes are effective in lowering blood pressure because they counteract the negative effects of salt.High blood pressure is one of many cardiovascular disease risk factors assessed in the NHS Health Check Programme. To be eligible to participate you need to be aged 40-74 and not currently diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Checks usually take place in GP practices. At present only 50% of the invited eligible population actually participate.
  8. Statistics suggest in a business employing 50 staff, at least 12 of them may have high blood pressure. Most will be completely unaware.
  9. Blood pressure checks, along with other important tests, such as cholesterol measurements are really quick and easy to deliver in the workplace. Did you know the cost of offering a health check to your employees can be off set against your company tax, and that it’s VAT free?
  10. The Fit for Work Team recommend regular health checks as a vital part of their ‘prevention is better than cure’ philosophy. These are available through the NHS and also at via The Fit for Work Team’s own Workplace Health Specialist, Andrew Harris

I am delighted that Empactis is improving Health Manager within its suite of tools to support the management of employee health. As well as helping managers to offer timely support to manage employee health issues, the approach aims to improve awareness of health issues and provide access to resources to enable employees to protect their health.