Government Pilots Occupational Health Services for SMEs

The Government has invested £11 million in six projects across the UK, piloting occupational health services for small businesses.

The funding will be used to provide businesses in Devon, East London, Merseyside, the North East, West Yorkshire and Worcestershire with NHS advice and support to improve the physical and mental well-being of their staff. The schemes will be managed by the Government’s occupational health network, NHS Plus.

“The funding of these schemes highlights the importance of occupational health services and their important role in supporting health, safety and well-being in the workforce and the community,” said Health Minister Ivan Lewis.

NHS Plus director Dr Kit Harling explained: “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 SMEs, their staff and the NHS.”

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), this funding will help small businesses across England to access NHS Occupational Health services. “We really think that this investment will make a difference for small businesses and their employees,” said FSB health and safety committee chair Mary Boughton.

“Our report, Health Matters, highlighted that small-business owners want to improve the health and well-being of their employees, but this is often costly,” she added. “These pilots should really help small firms.”

Exact details of how the funding will be used have not yet been announced, but one example is St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London which has been awarded £3.4 million to develop an occupational health service advice and rehabilitation centre.

According to the DoH, occupational health advice from the NHS to businesses can significantly reduce health problems among staff, and include management of sickness absence, rehabilitation, and the provision of advice on work-related health issues.

  • For more information on occupational health visit the Health, safety, premises section of the Business Link website
  • For more information about NHS Plus’ occupational health services visit NHS Plus

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