New report highlights the need for investment in NHS staff wellbeing

Published by  News archive

On 17th Jun 2022

Getty images

Poor mental health and wellbeing costs the NHS an estimated £12.1 billion a year, new research suggests.


Saving the equivalent of just 10 per cent of lost days each year, could pay for more than 34,000 nurses and 17,000 doctors, according to the analysis by The International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO), the University of East Anglia and RAND Europe.

The report, published today, finds that poor mental health among staff is contributing to chronic staff shortages, poor staff retention and record patient waiting lists.

The rapid evidence review and economic analysis were commissioned by the IPPO to advise policymakers on how to improve NHS staff wellbeing.

Prof Sara Connolly, of UEA’s Norwich Business School, led the economic analysis and said: “Our analysis illustrates the very significant costs to the NHS of not acting to invest in their staff health and wellbeing. 

“We make the case that the NHS needs to spend more on staff wellbeing in order to save more. Investment in staff wellbeing can improve productivity and patient care, it can also lead to savings which can be re-invested into the health service which in turn will also lead to better patient outcomes.”

Recommendations from the review include:
•    Put protection of NHS staff health at the core of operational plans, governance, and strategies. For example, as part of the NHS People Plan, the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS Five Year Forward View.  
•    Make staff wellbeing a core focus in inspections and reviews by regulators such as the Care Quality Commission, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  
•    Improve NHS governance principles as applied to the wellbeing of NHS staff, such that accountability for the health of the NHS workforce is clearly defined and well understood.  
•    In addition to the NHS Staff Survey there is a need for shorter, more frequent and operationally focused tools to monitor the wellbeing and mental health of staff on a regular basis. Here the NHS should follow the example of other organisations - notably the British military - which conduct longitudinal monitoring of personnel, through an agency funded by, but independent of, the military itself.
•    Sustained, ring-fenced investment at scale is required to reduce costs in the long term. Money saved should be spent on more staff to help reduce the levels of poor mental health.

Prof Kevin Daniels leads the Evolve Workplace Wellbeing research team at Norwich Business School. He added: “The report highlights that there are numerous practices the NHS can introduce to prevent problems with staff wellbeing happening at source – for example management development and enhanced access to flexible working schedules.

“The scale of the problem means there is no silver bullet or quick fix, off-the-shelf solution. Rather, a strategic and systemic approach is needed that brings together a range of practices that simultaneously promote patient care and NHS staff wellbeing – these are compatible not mutually exclusive outcomes.”

The report by the IPPO, UEA and Rand Europe is available here.

Latest News

Cryptosporidium parvum under the microscope
30 Jun 2022

How globalisation could be making human parasites more virulent

Parasites that cause severe diarrhoea are likely to become more virulent because of the speed at which they are exchanging their DNA and evolving – according to...

Read more >
Grassland wildfire
30 Jun 2022

Climate change will increase chances of wildfire globally – but humans can still help reduce the risk

New research highlights how the risk of wildfire is rising globally due to climate change – but also, how human actions and policies can play a critical role in...

Read more >
Aerial view from drone of a large flood affecting many houses in a town.
29 Jun 2022

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would reduce risks to humans by up to 85%

New UEA research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and identifies the hotspot regions for climate change risk in the future.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
A woman holds a drawing of a human gut against her stomach.
28 Jun 2022

Maternal microbiome promotes healthy development of the baby

A mother’s gut microbes can help in the development of the placenta, and the healthy growth of the baby - according to new UEA research.

Read more >
A woman entering an MRI scanner
27 Jun 2022

Cutting-edge 4D flow MRI scans could revolutionise blood flow assessment in the heart

UEA researchers have developed cutting-edge imaging technology to help doctors better diagnose and monitor patients with heart failure.

Read more >
A Turtle Dove on a branch
25 Jun 2022

Built infrastructure, hunting and climate change linked to huge migratory bird declines

Migratory birds are declining globally because of the way that humans have modified the landscape over recent decades, UEA research shows.

Read more >
An infant taking part in a research project at UEA.
24 Jun 2022

Babies and over 65s needed for UEA psychology research

From the very young to the somewhat older, psychology researchers at UEA are looking for participants to help with two studies.

Read more >
Destruction of forest
23 Jun 2022

Loss of nature is pushing nations toward sovereign credit downgrades and ‘bankruptcy’

The world's first biodiversity-adjusted sovereign credit ratings show how ecological destruction affects public finances – driving downgrades, debt crises and...

Read more >
Yelena Moskovich, Scarlett Brade, Charlie Higson
22 Jun 2022

Soviet-Ukrainian novelist and Fast Show comedian take centre stage at Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

The ninth Noirwich Crime Writing Festival returns in September, with a special line-up announced today (Wednesday 22 June) featuring an award-winning...

Read more >