NHS England is set to introduce incentives for losing weight as part of plans to reduce sickness absence in the workforce, it has revealed.
As part of its new five-year plan, NHS England said it will ‘measure staff health and wellbeing’ and introduce ‘voluntary work-based weight watching and health schemes’.
It said the schemes it was planning to use were proven to ‘achieve sustaintable weight loss in more than a third of those who take part’.
NHS England will also ‘cut access to unhealthy products on NHS premises, implementing food standards, and providing healthy options for night staff’, it said, and support ‘active travel’ schemes for staff and visitors.
The plan said: ‘While three-quarters of NHS trusts say they offer staff help to quit smoking, only about a third offer them support in keeping to a healthy weight. Three-quarters of hospitals do not offer healthy food to staff working night shifts. It has previously been estimated the NHS could reduce its overall sickness rate by a third – the equivalent of adding almost 15,000 staff and 3.3 million working days at a cost saving of £550m.’
In addition, NHS England intends to speak to large employers about also incentivising healthy living, chief executive Simon Stevens said. Probed further, he said incentives may include shopping vouchers, for example.
Mr Stevens said: ‘Employers in many countries have developed voluntary schemes for their employees whereby, for example, you actually get cash back based on participation in Weight Watchers or other types of schemes.’
‘There are quite a lot of international programmes where research has shown they worked well and they have generally been ignored in this country so far.’
To get a healthier workforce and reduce sickness absence, NHS England will:
- Cut access to unhealthy products on NHS premises, implementing food standards, and providing healthy options for night staff.
- Measure staff health and wellbeing, and introduce voluntary work-based weight watching and health schemes which international studies have shown achieve sustainable weight loss in more than a third of those who take part.
- Support ‘active travel’ schemes for staff and visitors.
- Promote the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, the Global Corporate Challenge and the TUC’s Better Health and Work initiative, and ensure NICE guidance on promoting healthy workplaces is implemented, particularly for mental health.
- Review with the Faculty of Occupational Medicine the strengthening of occupational health.
Source: NHS England Five Year Forward View