Month: March 2020

Improving workplace health in the NHS

As one of the largest organisations in the world, employing around 1.5 million people, and the provider of publicly funded healthcare in the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) should be a role model in workplace health. It should be providing employers with guidance and good practice that can be replicated elsewhere. However, currently the NHS performs poorly on many measures of staff health. For example, sickness absence rates among NHS staff are higher than the average for both the UK public sector and private sector.

The health of NHS staff is a key factor in determining how well the NHS provides healthcare to patients. Improving workplace health and the support available to staff with health problems — such as enabling them to return to work after absence due to sickness — should be priorities for the NHS.

The importance of good working environments in the NHS was emphasised in a 2019 General Medical Council report. The report noted that workplace pressures are associated with risks to patient care and the wellbeing of doctors, leading to “burnout” and poor staff retention and exacerbating shortages of medical professionals in the NHS.

A key message from the report was that the support that doctors received in the workplace from other clinical colleagues and managers was an important factor in determining how well they coped with the pressures of working in the NHS. Doctors at low risk of burnout were more likely to report that they were well supported by their colleagues and were also less likely to be absent because of work related stress.

A healthier NHS workforce would bring substantial benefits for NHS patients and better patient outcomes. NHS workplaces should aim to be centres of excellence for workplace health promotion, setting a positive example and providing case studies, guidance, and support to other public sector and private sector organisations

The full article can be read in the British Medical Journal.

Coronavirus infection: the importance of good personal hygiene in reducing infection risk

The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) infection is spreading more widely. The best way to protect yourself, your family and your work colleagues is through preventive actions such as regular handwashing, using disposable tissues when you cough and sneeze, and staying at home when you are unwell. Remember also not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes unless you have washed your hands recently.

Many of my patients are informing me they are unable to buy hand sanitizer because pharmacies and supermarkets have no stock as people have been buying large amounts because of concerns about coronavirus (Covid-19) infection. Don’t bother buying hand sanitizer. Use soap and warm water instead. Washing your hands with soap and water is usually more effective than using hand sanitizers at removing germs, and is also better at preserving the “good” bacteria on your hands. Soap and water is also a lot cheaper than sanitizer.

Finally, one person has recently died from coronavirus infection in the UK. This has caused some anxiety amongst the public and also generated a lot of media coverage. It’s important to reassure people that:

  • The number of coronavirus cases in the UK is currently low.
  • Most people will recover if they become infected.
  • You can reduce your risk of infection through good personal hygiene such as regular hand-washing.