In March 2017, the Office for National Statistics estimated that musculoskeletal problems accounted for 30.8 million days working days lost annually, with mental health issues resulting in 15.8 million days being lost. This policy promises to provide NHS staff with the “support they need”, and specifically mentions quicker access to services to help them address their own musculoskeletal or mental health issues.
The most significant development under this government regarding the NHS has been the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan in January 2019. Chapter 4 of the plan addresses the issue of “support” raised by this policy. It promises NHS staff:
“support to manage the complex and often stressful nature of delivering healthcare”
Many of the strategies for delivering that support are aimed at raising staffing levels and will be delivered by means of the “workforce implementation plan“, due to be published later in 2019.
There are also initiatives proposed to provide support for existing staff, including:
- development and career progression opportunities
- use of flexible working
- tackling workplace violence and bullying
- enhancing levels of respect, equality and diversity
Regarding access to musculoskeletal and mental health services, the Long Term Plan says an expanded Practitioner Health Programme means “the NHS will have the most comprehensive national mental health support offer to doctors of any health system in the world”. However, we found no specific mention of access to musculoskeletal services.
The Long Term Plan represents a direction of travel which could lead to the fulfilment of this pledge, but it is far too early to pass judgement on its success or failure. For now, this is ‘in progress’. We’ll keep tracking, and looking particularly for developments on the promise regarding musculoskeletal services. Follow this policy for updates.
Get the background
- Total of 137 million working days lost to sickness and injury in 2016 – Office for National Statistics
- NHS Long Term Plan – NHS
- Strengthen the entitlement to flexible working (in the NHS)
- Take action against those who abuse or attack NHS staff
- Create a diverse set of career paths for the NHS workforce
- Ensure that the NHS and social care system has the medical staff it needs
- Reduce bullying rates in the NHS
- Help NHS clinicians and support staff develop the skills they need
- Encourage the development of new roles in the NHS