NHS innovation developed in Norwich helps tackle £400 million cost of back pain

A two-year NHS project undertaken by Norwich's Centre for Occupational Health has won a national award for its role in helping tackle the £400 million a year cost of nurses with back problems.

Hilary Winch, occupational health nurse manager at the Centre for Occupational Health, part of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was presented with the outstanding NHS Occupational Health Service for Staff award from Dr Kit Harling, Director of NHS Plus, for the development of the Norwich Back Pal kneeling stool.

The category was one of 13 in the 2008 Excellence in HRM Awards organised by the Healthcare People Management Association. The project submitted was the development of the Norwich Back Pal kneeling stool. The two-year project was undertaken to improve the working posture of community district nurses who were spending long periods of time kneeling when applying leg dressings in patient's homes. The stool was developed following a significant rise in referrals to the occupational health centre for back and knee pain experienced by these staff.

Hilary said; “As the senior occupational health nurse adviser employed by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital providing services to the Primary Care Trusts in Norfolk I worked with the PCT's manual handling adviser in the design and subsequent commissioning of the manufacture of a specialist kneeling stool.

“Kneeling stools have been available for years but they were identified as being too bulky, too heavy, difficult to clean, unreliable folding mechanisms, not height adjustable and therefore did not meet the needs of community based nurses.”

A company (Natural Living) was found who had developed a folding meditation stool. Following months of work and consultation with the company, a lighter weight, wipe-able, height adjustable, folding product was developed. This product has since been subjected to rigorous tests and is now available for sale.

NHS Norfolk has now bought a large number of stools for their district nurses and the Occupational Health team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have seen a reduction in the number of back and knee pain being presented to the department.

The project was named as a winner at the HPMA awards ceremony on 12th June 2008. The judging panel liked the way that Hilary had identified a problem, researched solutions and assisted in the development of a product which is clearly successful.

The Centre for Occupational Health is based in Bethel Street, Norwich and provides comprehensive and specialist Occupational Health services to both NHS and non-NHS organisations.

Wednesday 2nd of July 2008 09:00:21 AM