New service to help stressed GPs

GPs suffering from stress and burnout will be able to access a nationally-specified occupational health service in England from 2016.

The scheme will be supported by specialist services for doctors and build on already successful initiatives such as the London Practitioner Health Programme and House Concern in the Northern region.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced the move as part of a £5 million drive to improve NHS staff health and reduce sick days.

"At a time when the pressures on GPs have never been greater, we need to extend the local practitioner health programmes that have been shown to help GPs stay healthy and get back to work when sick," he said.

He cited burnout and stress as some of the reasons why GPs leave the profession and said current occupational health provision offered "varying levels of follow-up services depending on local commissioning arrangements by CCGs."

He added: "NHS England will therefore develop a national service specification for procurement regionally from April 1, 2016."

Under the new initiative, NHS staff will also be given the chance to attend fitness classes such as yoga and Zumba, and there will be a clampdown on the amount of junk food served in hospitals.

Health checks will be provided at work for NHS staff aged 40 or over, and there will be access to physiotherapy, mental health talking therapies, smoking cessation and weight management services.

NHS England have signed up 10 local NHS organisations, collectively employing around 55,000 staff, who have agreed to lead implementation of the new programme.

It follows NHS England’s commitment in its NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October, "to ensure the NHS as an employer sets a national example in the support it offers its own staff to stay healthy".

 

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