NHS told to take a dose of its own medicine

With the level of unwavering loyalty expressed by the UK’s more vocal residents after its reputation was dragged through the mud by those dastardly Republicans last week, you’d be forgiven for thinking the NHS, with its non-discriminatory healthcare, dedicated staff and general socialist loveliness, could do no wrong. Sadly, though, you’d be thinking wrong.

Despite the fact that the NHS is doing a sterling job upholding the health of the general public, sadly the same can’t be said for the health of its staff: according to a report out today, employees aren’t getting enough support for their own health, meaning the service has 15,000 staff absences a day which could be avoided.

The NHS Health and Wellbeing interim report found NHS staff take an average of 10.7 sick days a year – almost twice the number as workers in the private sector, who take just 6.4 days.

The service has high incidences of stress, musculoskeletal problems and mental health issues – which isn’t particularly surprising, considering at least 40,000 of its 1.4 million employees manage to puff their way through more than 20 cigarettes a day, and at least 40% take less than three bouts of exercise a week. Mentioning the irony in that little nugget might be a little on the happy side of obvious, we feel.

Dr Steve Boorman, who lead the review, said allowances had to be made for the nature of the job, which often has high levels of stress associated with it, but said commitment to health is ‘patchy’ across the service and recommended managers work harder to ensure the wellbeing of their staff – a recommendation which, as stress levels rise among the working population, could be extended to managers outside the health service too.

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