Wednesday 2nd September 2015 – 2.00pm – Murray MacGregor.
“Having a healthy workforce has brought huge benefits for patients and staff alike.”
That is the view of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) Director of Workforce, Kim Nurse, in response to the announcement that the Trust is one of 10 across the country chosen to spearhead a major drive to improve the health and wellbeing of 1.3m health service staff.
By using innovative schemes, WMAS has been able to bring down the level of sickness amongst staff down from figures of over 7%, only a couple of years ago, to less than 3.5%.
The figures show that the sickness level in the Trust is at the lowest level ever and has consistently been the lowest in the ambulance sector for many months.
In a campaign launched by NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, NHS organisations will be supported to help their staff to stay well, including serving healthier food, promoting physical activity, reducing stress, and providing health checks covering mental health and musculoskeletal problems – the two biggest causes of sickness absence across the NHS.
Mrs Nurse, said: “As a Trust we took a very conscious decision to do everything we could to support staff who were injured or unwell.
“Having staff at work means that they are there to provide care in the patient’s hour of need, which in our case, can really mean the difference between life and death.
“Given the nature of the ambulance service, our staff often have to work in inhospitable situations such as on a hillside, within enclosed spaces as well as dealing with bad weather. This meant we saw a rise in musculoskeletal problems.
“We also recognise that our staff have to deal with some very difficult situations such as paediatric cardiac arrests, major trauma injuries and increasingly, violent attacks on themselves.
“To tackle these, we have put a wide range of support mechanisms in place to help them not only get well but provide other support if and when they need it.
“We want to have staff who are fit and healthy. It is really tough out there so we want to do all we can to ensure individuals are illness and injury free. We will continue to do everything we can to support staff.
The Trust already provides a range of support such as:
- A Staff Advice and Liaison Service that provides 24 hour support to staff offering a range of help from on-line support through to full counselling
- Providing specific capacity for staff to access occupational health services including remedial massage
- Free access to NHS health checks at work for NHS staff aged 40 or over including checks for diabetes, high blood pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation, healthy eating and fitness advice
- Promoting healthy travel to work such as the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme
- Encouraging staff to attend physical activity classes by highlighting discounts for classes such as running, yoga, zumba and competitive team sports
- Working with staff to make vending machines in our premises ‘healthy’
- Encouraging staff to have a flu vaccination each year to protect themselves, their family and their patients
Mrs Nurse added: “We can see the clear benefits of having a healthy workforce but recognise we can do more still to support staff and are already working on new schemes to help still further, the health and wellbeing of our workforce.”
Pic 1: Staff having their free health check
Pic 2: Weight loss club
Pic 3: Taking part in external sporting events
Pic 4: Staff getting their ‘flu jab’ to keep them, their family and their patients healthy