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September 7, 2016

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Occupational health case study – employee productivity and physiotherapy

occupational physio

Phil Clayton, Managing Director at Physio Med, explains how Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) has increased employee productivity through physiotherapy.


Medical evidence shows that physiotherapy is the most effective intervention in the first eight weeks of a musculoskeletal injury.

Looking to help its employees recover more quickly and safely from injuries and conditions that required treatment, BDCFT turned to Physio Med to provide an occupational health physiotherapy service.

The service provides BDCFT with prompt access to physiotherapy at three of its sites, enabling the NHS workers to reduce their pain levels, facilitating a quicker return to work and increasing their productivity.


Like any job within the NHS, some roles can be physically demanding, with the potential for staff to suffer injury or musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) as a result.

With 3,000 staff employed by BDCFT, and an average wait time to access NHS physiotherapy treatment of 14.3 weeks (or 71.5 days), some employees had the potential to be absent from work for prolonged periods, with others working with reduced productivity. Therefore, BDCFT needed to find a way to help its employees access quality physiotherapy treatment more quickly in order to:

  • reduce employee discomfort and pain levels;
  • minimise associated absence and facilitate an early return to work;
  • improve productivity;
  • reduce the risk of further absence due to recurrence of MSDs;
  • provide the above in the most cost-effective manner.

The Trust was also keen to offer on-site treatment to staff.  This decision was taken to increase flexibility of access for the staff, which helped to minimise disruption to personal lives.  In addition, for those staff who were at work with pain whilst receiving treatment, it provided a more convenient service.


Having worked with Physio Med for a number of years, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust asked the provider to review how the service was delivered to its staff in order to further improve results.

The service allows for fast access to face-to-face physiotherapy treatment via referrals from the BDCFT’s Occupational Health department. Having successfully offered treatment via its network of clinics for a number of years, Physio Med made a number of changes in order to make the service even more accessible within working hours and therefore reduce the impact of treatment on employees’ personal time.

The most significant change saw Physio Med offering a five-day-a-week practice across three of BDCFT’s locations.


Over the course of 2015, a total of 319 appropriate referrals were made, with initial assessment appointments taking place within an average of just 2.5 working days following referral.

At the point of referral, 21% of employees were absent from work and 79% were at work in pain, with an average productivity of just 64%.

Of those employees off sick at the point of referral, 84% returned to work following treatment and 97.5% of employees referred whilst at work in pain, were safely maintained at work.

Those that used the service reported an average reduction in pain of 79% and an increase in productivity and function in real terms of 33% (from 51% to 84%) equating to 1.65 days pp/pw working a five day week.

Based on the 297 employees discharged from the service over the 12 months, BDCFT estimates it saved 6,762 working days, delivering an estimated saving of £676,200, which equates to an ROI figure of 15 :1.

Financially, the service has bridged the gap in the NHS physiotherapy waiting list, helping BDCFT to reduce sickness absence and improve productivity – saving thousands of working days in the process.

Outcomes included:

    • Significant reduction in long term sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders.
    • 79% average reduction in reported pain.
    • 33% increase, from 51 per cent to 84 per cent, in recorded productivity and function per referred person (post treatment), equivalent to 1.65 days per week/65% over all.
    • 84% of those off work at the point of referral returned to work.
    • 97.5% of employees referred whilst at work in pain were safely maintained at work.
    • Improved productivity and function equated to an overall cost saving to BDCFT of £676,200 based on the 297 employees discharged from the service and using an average cost of £100 per employee per day.
    • This equates to a Return on Investment figure of 15 : 1.

Physio Med also reports back to BDCFT on a host of criteria – including cause of injury, anatomical injury site and job roles – identifying trends to help BDCFT put practices and measures in place to reduce future injuries and issues.

Joanne Hoban, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “The employees at Bradford District Care Foundation Trust provide vital community services, so it is in everyone’s best interests to ensure they are as fit as possible in order to work to the best of their abilities.

“Physio Med has speeded up our physiotherapy response times enormously, helping employees to reduce the pain of these conditions and get back to work as quickly as possible. We are delighted to be able to provide this service, and the relationship has yielded great results for the individuals affected and the business as a whole.”


Phil Clayton 2

Phil Clayton, Managing Director at Physio Med.

 Originally from Birmingham and now living in South Yorkshire, Phil joined Physio Med as MD in 2002, having spent eight years as a Regional Manager for Prime Time Recruitment.

Phil prides himself on ensuring the business provides high levels of customer service and exceptional value for money.


What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
7 years ago

Brilliant, post injury intervention and something everyone could do with in the workplace just, a shame having nobbled the introduction of the new 2012 EU MSD Directive employers are still failing to acknowledge, let alone address, Screen Fatigue or Computer Vision Syndrome in the “chain of causation” leading to WULD’s & MSD’s. Dismissing the debilitating symptoms as “temporary” for 30 odd years and now following recent cases of screen fatigue, present in well meaning adaptation, manifesting in blindness still ducking the issues surrounding exposure, or rather over-exposure, to sub-optimally calibrated DSE standard screen interface ergonomics continuing to manifest in “unintentional… Read more »