NHS England will work with Public Health England to raise the standard of food served in hospitals and other care settings as part of a £5m initiative to boost the health and wellbeing of health service staff.

  • NHS England and PHE to push catering contractors and PFI providers to serve more nutritious food to improve NHS staff health
  • Funding will also be used to create occupational health service for GPs
  • Stevens: Regular health checks covering mental health and MSK conditions for staff

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens will today outline how the national bodies will take action to challenge catering contractors and providers of private finance initiative facilities to raise the standards of food and nutrition.

In addition to encouraging organisations to provide healthier food, the funding will also be used to create a nationally specified occupational health service for GPs suffering from burnout and stress.

The occupational health scheme will be run in partnership with the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association’s GP committee.

A group of leading NHS hospital, mental health, ambulance, community and clinical commissioning group employers will also implement a set of initiatives to improve staff health, including health checks at work for staff aged over 40.

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, Mr Stevens will set out how organisations will be supported to help their staff stay well.

Simon Stevens

The NHS ‘needs to put its own house in order’, Simon Stevens will say

He will also outline the need for regular staff health checks covering mental health and musculoskeletal problems, which NHS England says are the two biggest causes of sickness absence across the service.

Mr Stevens is due to say: “NHS staff have some of the most critical but demanding jobs in the country.

“When it comes to supporting the health of our own workforce, frankly the NHS needs to put its own house in order.

“It’s time for PFI contractors and catering firms to smell the coffee – ditch junk food from hospitals and serve up affordable and healthy options instead. Staff, patients and visitors alike will all benefit.”

He will also say: “At a time when arguably the biggest operational challenge facing hospitals is converting overspends on temporary agency staff into attractive flexible permanent posts, creating healthy and supportive workplaces is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must do.”

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “The public sector should be the standard bearer for workforce health.

“The positive steps the NHS is taking to systematically improve the health and wellbeing of its workforce will have trickle down benefits for the health and wellbeing of the wider population.”