Employers have been urged to do more to keep people healthy at work as part of a government plan to put prevention at the forefront of health and social care.
Unveiling the Prevention is better than cure government green paper on 5 November, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “A true focus on prevention means employers playing a bigger role in helping their staff stay healthy and to return to health after illness.”
The green paper sets out the government’s vision to improve healthy life expectancy by ‘at least five extra years’ by 2035.
Work can help keep people healthier for longer, it says: “It gives a sense of purpose, builds self-esteem and provides the opportunity to build relationships.”
The paper, issued in November, calls on employers to support employees from falling out of work if they become sick or are struggling with health or mental health.
“Flexible adjustments to the workplace, working hours, or the job itself will also help people to thrive in the role,” it says.
It also says more can be done to hire and retain disabled workers, highlighting the success of Barclays Bank’s ‘This is Me’ campaign which encourages openness around disability and support needs.
Hancock also said good health was about government, businesses and individuals working together.
“Health can’t work in isolation. It means employers playing a bigger role in helping their staff stay healthy and to return to health after illness.
Employers have a responsibility to help improve the health of their staff and the nation. Each of us has a stake in our health and care system so each of us has a responsibility to work together to build a sustainable system,” he said.
It follows the government’s pledge to fund an additional £20 billion into the NHS in England each year by 2023/24.
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