Nurses have called for a yearly health and well-being check up.

Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing conference in Liverpool said the “MoT” could take place at the same time as their annual appraisals.

The check-up, which would assess their physical and psychological health, would set a healthy example to patients, they said.

Claire Topham-Brown, a critical care nurse from Peterborough, said: “There is no denying that nursing is a physically demanding job. You do need a certain level of physical fitness.

“But when do we ever assess that vital, delicate and most valuable part of the machine – namely me and you?”

She said it was not just about the physical and psychological nature of nursing work but also the culture and environment in which they operated.

“Don’t we deserve an annual MoT?” she said.

“It would allow our employers to be more proactive and supportive instead of reactive.”

The Government’s NHS Health and Wellbeing report, published a year ago, said the NHS needed to do more to improve the health of staff.

NHS staff take an average of 10.7 days off work a year – more than the public sector average and nearly double the 6.4 figure for the private sector.

Staff sickness is thought to cost the NHS £1.7 billion a year.