Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing


The Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing North East and North Cumbria (Growing OH and Wellbeing NENC) programme, supported by the AHSN NENC, focusses on creating a wellness culture for staff working within NHS foundation trusts in the central and southern locality of the Integrated Care System.

Growing OH and Wellbeing NENC

One of the pillars of the NHS People Plan 2021-22 is “Looking after our People”. If staff receive excellent support from their employer they will provide excellent care for their patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented NHS staff with physical and psychological challenges and in order for them to flourish they need to receive excellent occupational health and wellbeing services.

The Growing OH and Wellbeing NENC programme sits within the North East and North Cumbria ICS health and wellbeing pillar, which is a vital part of the ICS’s overarching workforce strategy.

The programme began in July 2021 and is due to complete in December 2022.

Delivery across the North East and North Cumbria

The North East and North Cumbria has been chosen as a pilot to grow occupational health and wellbeing services through co-designing one integrated service for staff. The programme is part of the national Growing OH programme which is focused on growing NHS occupational health services and supporting occupational health staff.

The AHSN NENC is supporting the programme by providing project management support, guidance and direction. In addition, the AHSN NENC is providing the evaluation and is the programme’s financial host.


The pilot programme focuses on creating a wellness culture for staff working within four NHS foundation trusts including:

  • South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

This will be achieved through integrating the Occupational Health and Wellbeing departments from each trust to provide one world class service for staff to access.


Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing Animation


Aims and objectives

The programme sets out to:

  • Support wider organisational leadership training and skills development to help managers identify health and wellbeing issues and undertake quality wellbeing conversations;
  • Evaluate system options for the establishment of a centralised digital triage service for staff reporting as absent;
  • Evaluate the options for the provision of a digital contact service for all staff reaching long term sickness levels i.e. 28 day trigger and for all staff reporting against a stress, anxiety or depression code;
  • Establish a single service structure and delivery model based on provision of a high performing Occupational Health and Wellbeing Service achieving the Better Health at Work Award and meeting SEQOHS standards.

Growing OH and Wellbeing NENC Pilot programme

The pilot across the North East and North Cumbria will successfully provide:

  • Long term condition support arrangements inclusive of those who have had Covid-19;
  • Effective proactive and reactive health and wellbeing services;
  • Integration of sustainable mental health and wellbeing services established via the resilience hub and psychological support services;
  • A “fast-track” to physiotherapist services reducing MSK related absence;
  • Provision of specialist advice and support for risk assessment process and response;
  • Provision of specialist OH services to support effective sickness management service, referrals, professional advice to managers and HR professionals;
  • Pre-employment health checks for new employees;
  • Clear access and signposting to extended wellbeing support services and resources including financial wellbeing;
  • Implementation of a robust vaccination programme(s);
  • Development of evidence to ensure that the outcomes of the pilot are captured and inform the implementation of the project beyond the pilot phase.

Project workstreams

The project workstreams include:

  • Service Model –  Co-design a service that provides a gold-standard of care in OH and Wellbeing for staff across the region. Click for more.
  • Digital Solutions – Implement a world-class IT system to use across the region to improve communication and provide integrated care for staff. Click for more.
  • Career Pathway – Create a pathway to attract, develop, train and retain OH staff. Click for more.
  • Health & Wellbeing – Change the culture from reactive to proactive and create a sustainable workforce in the four Trusts. Click for more.

Project updates

The AHSN NENC programme team will share regular updates with OH and wellbeing services involved in the programme over the coming months. You can see these updates below:


For more information about the Growing OH and Wellbeing NENC programme, contact Mark Henderson, Project Manager on [email protected].