OXFORDSHIRE’S biggest hospital trust has welcomed a new national initiative to improve the health of NHS workers.

Staff at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT) will be encouraged to keep fit and eat healthier food in a campaign run by NHS England.

Nationally, poor health of clinical and clerical staff costs about £2.4bn a year.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has announced plans to improve staff health by offering cheaper local gym memberships and better food choices.

OUHT workforce director Mark Power said: “We believe in proactively supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff. We want them to be healthy and content at work, both for their own sakes and in order to reduce staff sickness absence.

“Maintaining good levels of attendance ensures we are able to provide a more efficient and effective service.”

OUHT, which runs Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Churchill Hospital and Banbury’s Horton General, is already promoting healthy choices for staff with its Here for Health campaign.

The occupational health team offer staff discounts on gyms and leisure centres, pilates, yoga and zumba classes in lunch breaks and cycle to work schemes.