New NHS projects to improve occupational health for local businesses

Businesses in six areas across the country are to benefit from NHS advice and support to improve the physical, mental and social well-being of their staff, health minister Ivan Lewis has announced.

The six new demonstration projects located in Merseyside, East London, West Yorkshire, the North East, Devon and Worcestershire will share £11m of capital funding to provide better quality occupational health (OH) services for local businesses.

The announcement follows Dame Carol Black̵7;s report, ̵6;Working for a Healthier Tomorrow̵7;, which showed that work can be good for health, reversing the harmful effects of long-term unemployment and prolonged sickness absence.

Announcing the support, Ivan Lewis said: ̶0;The funding of these schemes highlights the importance of occupational health services and their important role in supporting health, safety and well being in both the workforce and the community. The chosen sites are excellent examples of the good work going on throughout the NHS to reduce ill health and accidents and improve employee morale and performance in the NHS and beyond.̶1;

Welcoming the allocations Dr Kit Harling, Director of NHS Plus, said: ̶0;Occupational health services are based on the teamwork of a range of healthcare professionals. These allocations will provide the opportunity to strengthen working practices and achieve new standards of excellence. This will benefit small and medium-size enterprises, their staff and the NHS.̶1;

Mary Boughton MBE, Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses' Health and Safety Committee said: ̶0;This funding will help small business right across the country to access NHS Occupational Health services. Our report ̵6;Health Matters̵7; highlighted that small business owners want to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees, but this is often costly. We really think that this investment will make a difference for small businesses and their employees.̶1;

Occupational health advice from the NHS to businesses can significantly reduce health problems amongst staff. Typical work, for example, includes the management of sickness absence, rehabilitation and providing advice on a wide range of workplace issues.

Image: UK health minister Ivan Lewis

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