An NHS trust is being paid a bonus if staff stand up in any meetings that last longer than an hour, under a scheme which is supposed to improve employee health.
Staff at a hospital in Bedfordshire are under orders to jump up for two minutes every hour, as part of a scheme which can net the trust almost £1m in extra funding.
Every NHS trust in the country is able to gain extra funding if it hits a series of targets aimed at improving the quality of healthcare, and the health of their own staff.
Each trust can design the specific details of activities which qualify for such bonuses.
Staff at meetings stand for a couple of minutes after an hour to stretch their legs and then resume seating. They are not required to stand for the rest of the duration of the meeting
A spokesman for Bedford Hospital Trust
Board papers from Bedford Hospital Trust reveal that targets include a requirement that “all meetings lasting longer than one hour would require attendees to stand after an hour had passed.”
The target is hit if staff stand “for a couple of minutes to stretch their legs” on an hourly basis, the trust said.
Minutes of recent board meetings record all executives being forced to stand to attention when the clock hit 60 minutes.
The records from November note: “All trust board members stood up and continued the meeting. The director of workforce and organisational development explained to attendees that the trust had signed up to a health and wellbeing CQUIN [the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation scheme] to encourage staff to stand and move around more due to the muscular-skeletal impacts of long periods of sitting down.”
The target is one of a number of health and wellbeing initiatives, which can net the trust up to £900,000 in extra funds, Health Service Journal reported.
Other incentives are linked to promotion of healthy food, and uptake of flu vaccination.
The trust would not say how much funding was linked to the standing up rules.
“I can confirm that staff at meetings stand for a couple of minutes after an hour to stretch their legs and then resume seating. They are not required to stand for the rest of the duration of the meeting,” a spokesman said.
He said the target was part of a “comprehensive plan” to improve staff health and wellbeing, including workplace yoga and a staff gym.
The funding comes from a national scheme which aims to improve the health of NHS staff, and combat obesity.
Other initiatives elsewhere include Zumba classes and sports clubs for overweight staff.
Hospitals can also receive extra payments if they cut sales of junk foods, and ban marketing of unhealthy fare.
Those that hit improved “health and wellbeing” targets can claim a bonus of up to 2.5 per cent of their NHS earnings from the £600 million fund.
Announcing the scheme last year, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the health service needs to do “our bit to end the nation's obesity epidemic”.
A spokesman for NHS England Central Midlands said officials did not set out nationally which activities a trust should offer to receive the funding.
Last year a study in the Lancet suggested that sitting at a desk all day is as bad for the nation’s health as smoking, with one hour’s exercise needed daily to offset the consequences of sedentary living.