Nurses call for annual MOT health check
Nurses have suggested they should undergo an annual health and well-being “MoT”.
The physical and psychological assessment could take place alongside yearly appraisals, according to nurses at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference in Liverpool.
They believe the plan would help staff set a healthy example to patients and argued that there are more checks on wheelchairs than NHS staff.
Claire Topham-Brown, a critical care nurse from Peterborough, said: “There is no denying that nursing is a physically demanding job. You do need a certain level of physical fitness.”
She told delegates during a discussion on the issue that one activist had “observed that we take better care of wheelchairs than we do of the staff.
“Bizarre but true – we now risk-assess everything, yearly, monthly, weekly and sometimes daily. But when do we ever assess that vital, delicate and most valuable part of the machine – namely me and you?”
She said it was not just about the physical and psychological nature of nursing work but also the culture and environment in which they operated.
“Don’t we deserve an annual MoT?” she said. “It would allow our employers to be more proactive and supportive instead of reactive.”
Ms Topham-Brown was supported by other nurses, including Karen Webb, the RCN’s director of the eastern region of England.
She suggested support was even more important given the expansion in nurses in training in recent years, which could lead to an increase in the numbers not fit for a career in nursing.
She said students had a health check before joining a course but their psychological suitability was not tested.
“It is about making sure people have the right attributes,” she added.
In her local area, screening had been launched to “make sure that the people coming in have the right attitude to what is essentially customer care”.
She said nurses also had a duty to deal with public health issues, such as obesity and well-being.
And those nurses who were overweight themselves could be supported.
“It would be about supporting those people in that position to help them lose the weight.”
The Government’s NHS Health and Wellbeing report, published a year ago, said the NHS needed to do more to improve the health of staff.
NHS staff take an average of 10.7 days off work a year – more than the public sector average and nearly double the 6.4 figure for the private sector. Staff sickness is thought to cost the NHS £1.7 billion a year.
Tags: Health Professionals, healthcare, National Health Service, NHS Deaths, Nurses, RCN