Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 22

Congratulations to West Dorset General Hospitals trust for having its improvement notice lifted by the Health and Safety Executive. Such a notice must only have added to workplace pressure that was a problem in the first place.

At the recent NHS Confederation conference, my colleagues and I were interested to observe the reaction of attendees to a poster titled 'Stress in the NHS'.

Instead of the bristling macho response ('Stress is for wimps') that we often see, we watched people as they stopped in their tracks, read the poster title, gave a sad smile and a shrug, and walked on as if this was a fact of life you just have to live with.

Much can be learnt from the approach that West Dorset has taken, especially its openness with staff over the problems that led to the improvement notice, and it will be interesting to hear what improvements are made as its action plan is carried out.

NHS leaders and senior managers must engage with the issue in the first place, and also recognise that there are tremendous business benefits from managing staff health and well-being (in addition to avoiding the wrath of the HSE).

Jackie Dyer Non-executive director Amber Valley PCT Senior consultant Robertson Cooper