Headlines: September 24th, 1998

The NHS has been set a whole list of targets to improve the quality of the working lives of staff. Failure could mean Government intervention, even the replacement of trust boards.

The aim is to tackle the staff shortages that are becoming an increasing problem for NHS managers.

Ministers say the move recognises that job security, flexible working hours, improved conditions and staff involvement – as well as salaries – are a factor in improving morale and tackling staff shortages.Health Minister Alan Milburn said the first such targets in the history of the service stem from the current inconsistency in the way different NHS employers treat staff.By April 2000, each local employer will have to monitor workplace accidents and violence against staff and have strategies to reduce these, have similar strategies to tackle harassment, provide occupational health services and counselling.

Training and development plans must be prepared for most health professionals, who must also be more involved in planning and delivering health care.

There are national targets too for sick absence rates, retention rates for professional staff and an annual staff attitude survey must act as a benchmark with which to measure future improvements.

“Working Together: securing a quality workforce for the NHS” is available from the Department of Health, PO Box 410, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7LN, by fax from 0990 210266, or on the web at: