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NHS: Staff

Volume 715: debated on Monday 23 November 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today placing in the Library the Government response to Dr Steve Boorman’s review into NHS Health and Well-being.

Dr Boorman was commissioned by the former Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) following Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of Britain’s working age population: Working for a Healthier Tomorrow. His review also supports the commitment to NHS staff in the NHS constitution that “the NHS commits to provide support and opportunities for staff to maintain their health, well-being and safety”.

Dr Boorman, supported by his independent review team, has engaged widely with NHS stakeholders and has gathered and analysed a large amount of evidence about staff health and well-being in the NHS. He makes 20 recommendations to improve staff health and well-being, which we welcome and fully support and accept.

Improving health and well-being is one of the staff pledges in the NHS constitution and Dr Boorman’s report contributes to the case for staff engagement and well-being as vital if the NHS is to meet the quality and productivity challenge. Dr Boorman’s report emphasises the impact of staff health and well-being on the quality of care that they give patients. Organisations that have better staff health and well-being indicators also have better patient satisfaction scores.

In terms of productivity, the business case for reducing sickness absence is unquestionable: there are 10.7 million days lost to sickness absence each year in the NHS—at a cost of £1.7 billion. Dr Boorman proposes that the NHS could—as a whole—reduce sickness absence by one-third and save the NHS £550 million a year. This has been achieved by other large organisations following strategic health and well-being initiatives.

Dr Boorman’s findings demonstrate clearly to the NHS that investing in staff health and well-being will reap long-term benefits. NHS organisations need to be exemplars in promoting the health and well-being of their staff. By doing this, they support the NHS to play its key role in promoting public health.

I expect NHS organisations to take action to implement the recommendations in the Boorman report. They will be supported by national and regional action to ensure system incentives support delivery of the changes needed.

Dr Boorman’s report, NHS Health and Well-being, and the Government’s response have been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office. All related documents are also available at