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New research suggests large return on NHS investment

New research suggests that investing in the NHS workforce could see a return on investment of 3:1.

A pilot study at Sheffield Hallam University found that 71% of staff who took part in a new workplace health promotion scheme at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust significantly improved their fitness levels.

The £13,000 scheme saw 50 staff go through a health screening programme, fitness checks and advice to address any lifestyle issues.

The results showed that 37% began weight management programmes, 32% adopted mental wellbeing strategies, 11% reduced their alcohol consumption and 3% quit smoking.

Researchers estimate the scheme will save £36,000 in sickness absence alone, and if reproduced across the country could save £3 for every £1 spent on workforce health and wellbeing.

“Our staff are our most valuable asset and as one of the UK’s major providers of healthcare we’re delighted to be leading the way in creating a healthy workplace which can improve lives, reduce workplace absences and prevent ill health,” says Dr Simon Till, a consultant in sport and exercise medicine at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital,who led the study.

“During the study we specifically targeted employees not deemed to be at high risk of ill health, so it was fantastic to see considerable improvements in all aspects of staff health and wellbeing across all our seven employee groups, including administrative, managerial, nursing and medical staff.

“Evidence from big blue-chip companies show that improving employee wellbeing increases staff productivity and retention. This is estimated to save employers 1.5 times the amount as sickness absence reductions.”

A follow-up project has just commenced to provide the same wellbeing intervention to a larger number of staff at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Bradford Teaching Hospitals and Airedale NHS Foundation Trusts.

This is funded by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).