Launch of the NHS Workforce Health & Wellbeing Framework

I am delighted to see the launch of the NHS Workforce Health & Wellbeing Framework, which NHS Employers are now promoting and NHS Improvement will use in key programmes going forward.

The Framework will be useful reference for non- NHS Employers as well, it represents over two years of work by a group of experts working with NHS England’s HWB Advisory Board to pilot initiatives to improve staff health and wellbeing in 12 leading NHS Trusts. I was pleased to participate in this work and have been inspired by the efforts made by those working in these Trusts.

The framework is designed to help NHS organisations understand the key elements and priorities to support their staff. Whilst the NHS has examples of the very best approaches to do this, it also has much variation and many NHS organisations would benefit from implementing improvement.

In 2009 I led a consortium of research teams that produced conclusive evidence that good staff health and wellbeing gave better patient outcomes, improved productivity and better performance against Regulatory targets – since then other leading academics have produced detailed studies reinforcing these conclusions. The work’s recommendations for improvement were accepted by the Health Secretary and have prompted actions and pilots – and this toolkit is a great example of these.

The Department of Health summarised the learning as “Healthy staff, Better Care for Patients” and I am excited to see this translating in to practical actions to support staff in one of the world’s largest employers.

Our NHS faces many challenges, and our expectations of it continue to rise! My family recently had cause to use its emergency resources and despite it being a busy Friday evening the service we received was outstanding, not just clinically good, but also exceptionally caring.

However, we know that the staff providing this care do so against a background of very demanding conditions, the work is physically and psychologically demanding and distressed patients, relatives and others can make it harder – simple measures can help reduce these risks and the framework is designed to help organisations do this.

I described in 2009 that some NHS staff risked being considered as “cobblers children”, meaning that we didn’t always “care for our carers” – I congratulate NHS England for its work developing this resource and hope that the work NHS Employers and NHS Improvement will do to take it forward is successful in ensuring its aim of improving NHS staff health and wellbeing is delivered!