Developing a 'Working Well' service

Salford Community Health

  • Project led by Salford Community Health and the University of Salford.
  • Focused on staff health and wellbeing across NHS Salford.
  • Aimed to reduce staff sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
  • Developed a worker-centred model of provision for staff health involving clinics and co-ordinated case management to support staff to return to normal participation quickly.

The Working Well project aimed to reduce staff sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as back pain. The project set out to:

  • support staff to return to normal participation quickly and reduce time off sick
  • increase job satisfaction and mental wellbeing
  • reduce sickness absence costs
  • improve staff efficiency and effectiveness, with improved levels of care and patient satisfaction.

The project team worked with stakeholders to implement a worker-centred model of staff health provision and a co-ordinated case management service for staff who might be struggling to stay at work or return to work due to an MSD. Clinics took place at a range of locations and at different times, to accommodate a range of shift patterns. A specialist occupational physiotherapist co-ordinated care and coached other clinical staff to develop their skills and improve future capacity and sustainability.

Who was involved

The project was led by NHS Salford and the University of Salford, with the service available to staff at Salford Community Health and NHS Salford organisations.


  • General sickness absence was reduced from 5.2 days to 2.6 days, while sickness absence due to MSDs was reduced from 3.3 days to 0.7 days.
  • Improvements in staff psychological wellbeing, job satisfaction and identified functional limitations.
  • For individuals who used the service, salary-based costs for MSDs in relation to sickness absence fell by 26%.
  • Managers felt supported and empowered to effectively manage sickness absence cases.


Data collection and analysis became a much bigger task than anticipated, so additional research time had to be added to support this area of work.

Further reading

Learning report

Shine: Improving the value of local healthcare services

Successes and lessons from the first two rounds of the Health Foundation’s Shine programme: annual awards to test small-scale...

About this programme


Shine 2010

This programme ran from 2010 to 2011 and awarded 18 teams with up to £75,000 for projects aimed at stimulating thinking, acti...

You might also like...

Research report

A critical moment

Our third annual report analysing the staff profile and trends in the NHS workforce in England in 2018

Press release

NHS staff shortages put long-term vision for primary and community care at risk

New analysis shows NHS staff numbers are failing to keep pace with demand, and that there is ongoing deterioration in workfor...

Improvement project

The Community Spirit Level

This project will involve the development of a ‘Community Spirit Level’; a tool that can be used to measure the factors in a ...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q Community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more