St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Occupational health and wellbeing

St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s principal teaching hospitals, based in London. It was founded in 1733 and is one of the largest hospitals in the UK, with a workforce of nearly 9,000 staff. As well as providing acute hospital services, it also offers a wide variety of local and specialist services to patients of all ages.

St George’s serves a population of 1.3 million across southwest London. Specialist services, such as cardiothoracic medicine and surgery, neurosciences and renal transplantation, also cover significant populations from Surrey and Sussex, totalling around 3.5 million people.

What is the Dynamic Purchasing System Framework and what services can be accessed?

In March 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement appointed 29 Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service accredited suppliers on a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Framework. The DPS Framework offers NHS organisations the opportunity to buy-in additional occupational health and wellbeing (OH) services where a need has been identified during the COVID-19 pandemic, without having to undertake a tender exercise.

What was St George’s experience of using the framework?

St George’s completed a local assessment of existing OH capacity at the trust and identified the need for additional resource in this key area, particularly given the requirement for all trusts to complete risk assessments for all NHS staff members within the nationally specified timeframe. The trust chose to secure additional OH support through the DPS Framework, in order to enable the in-house OH team to effectively manage their existing workload without jeopardising the risk assessments.

In total, 398 staff members had risk assessments booked through the appointed OH supplier, Cordell Health, between May 2020 and July 2020.  At the start of August 2020, Cordell commenced completion of risk assessments for 2000 bank only workers at St George’s, and this work is ongoing. Given the national requirement for NHS organisations to support staff and complete risk assessments in a timely manner, the supplier offered a turnaround time for the appointments of five to six working days.  Feedback from staff who had their risk assessment completed by the external supplier confirmed that they were happy with the process, with only a small number of staff asking for the risk assessment to be completed by the in-house OH team instead (an option extended to all staff).

What difference has this made to the trust?

The trust stated that using the framework was relatively simple and quick as the procurement had already been done, and there was an accredited list of providers available to choose from. The trust was also pleased by the timely and professional correspondence by Cordell Health during the set-up phase.

Procuring an external OH service to complete the risk assessments has helped St. George’s in-house OH team continue with their existing workload, without experiencing interruptions brought on by the pandemic. This means that local staff who had previously been referred to OH did not experience any COVID-19 related delays to receiving support.

Informing staff that the trust had procured additional capacity from Cordell Health to support health and wellbeing was very well received and demonstrated that the wellbeing of staff is a key priority for the organisation. The Partnership Forum (staff side representatives) welcomed this approach and have shared this with the leadership/executive team.

The acting Chief People Officer (CPO) for the trust said “In my role as acting CPO, I have peace of mind knowing that there is additional capacity to support the wellbeing of our colleagues. Staff who are supported will in turn deliver the best possible care for our patients.”

Overall, St. George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust would recommend that other NHS organisations access and utilise the DPS Framework during the COVID-19 pandemic as the ease of procurement to buy-in additional external OH support has helped their internal OH department in maintaining the in-house OH services effectively.

Want to know more?

If you would like to find out more about the framework please contact Siobhan Woodland in the National Health and Wellbeing team at NHS England and NHS Improvement.

If you would like to talk to colleagues at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust about their experience of using the framework please contact Sreeja Pillai or Annie Stewart on 020 8725 1661/3240.