National award for hospital trust's return to work scheme

Julia smedley

Staff at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have been nationally recognised for developing a rehabilitation project to help colleagues return to work after illness.

The occupational health and human resources teams at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust were commended for their Return2Health (R2H) scheme, which offers employees a tailored package of care, from treatment and personal consultation, to follow-up and continued support.

The teams, led by Dr Julia Smedley, occupational health lead consultant and head of service, and Jean Piernicki, occupational health nurse manager, picked up the award for Excellence in improving employee health and wellbeing at the Health Care People Management Association ceremony in London.

“This project has helped to minimise the adverse effects of long-term sickness on health and wellbeing and the costs of long-term absence by creating a personal service where employees feel valued and cared for and are set realistic personal goals,” said Dr Smedley.

“By offering dedicated support and advice, employees feel empowered to overcome the hurdles in front of them to recover more quickly and return to work sooner.”

Following its launch, the overall absence rate at SUHT has dropped to 3.38% – below the 3.5% target – and agency costs have reduced by 26%.

Posted on Friday 15 July 2011