A focus on staff health and wellbeing

These webpages provide evidence-based knowledge and resources to help you improve the health and wellbeing of your people, an essential component in making the NHS the ‘best place to work’, a commitment of the Long Term Plan.

About our programme

Understanding absence trends and causes are key to improving Health and Wellbeing for staff across the NHS. Sickness absence across all NHS Providers, in 2017, was at a rate of 4.2%, while the overall average in the public sector was identified by the Office of National Statistics as 2.6% for the same period. Key findings from the 2018 NHS Staff Survey show record highs of staff feeling unwell due to work-related stress (39.8%) and musculoskeletal issues (27.6%).

Increased rates of absenteeism have a detrimental effect on patient care, as well as increasing financial strain on NHS trusts. The Carter Review of 2016 anticipated that a 1% improvement in sickness absence rates in the acute sector would equate to a saving of £280million in staff costs, without including the cost of temporary staffing cover.

In response to the Carter Review, the Secretary of State commissioned the ‘Improving Health and Wellbeing Programme’ in 2018, to improve NHS staff health and wellbeing and reduce sickness absence rates by April 2022.

In the first year of the programme, we have worked with a number of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts to build and shape our work. 70 of these Trust have received direct support from the programme to help them improve staff health and wellbeing and reduce their staff sickness rates. Our programme is founded on the Organisational Enablers described in the NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework:

These provide the foundation for health interventions and form the primary focus for any NHS organisation looking to improve the health and wellbeing of their people.