Awards for NHS staff health initiatives

SINGING groups and walking meetings are among the staff health initiatives honoured in an NHS England awards programme.

Gold, silver and bronze awards were given to 21 trusts who used a range of innovative techniques and new technologies to increase physical activity and general wellbeing amongst workers.

The 2016 Sport and Physical Activity @Work Awards saw golds handed out to eight trusts in which 20 per cent of staff engaged in sport or physical activities, seven silvers (10 to 15 per cent of staff) and six bronze (five per cent).

A recent survey found obesity to be the most significant self-reported health problem amongst NHS staff, with nearly 700,000 estimated to be overweight or obese. NHS England said this problem was not only bad for workers’ personal health, but also increased sickness absence and the NHS’ ability to give patients credible and effective health advice.

Last year NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens unveiled a £5 million plan to boost staff health and reduce sick days. It included offering access to fitness classes such as yoga and Zumba, health checks, mental health talking therapies and cutting the amount of junk food sold in hospitals. GPs suffering from stress and burnout were also to be offered specialist occupational health support.

One of the 2016 award gold winners was Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Their initiatives included cheaper gym memberships; lunchtime fitness classes; team fitness challenges; and a range of activities to improve mental health such as singing groups, relaxation and mindfulness sessions.

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said there had never been a more important time for hospitals and all NHS organisations to focus on the health and wellbeing of staff.

“The effects of low levels of physical activity can be seen day in, day out in every hospital and GP practice across the NHS,” he said.

“As collectively the largest employer in the country, the NHS family has not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to take steps to improve the health and wellbeing of our million-plus strong workforce.

“Supporting and encouraging staff participation in sport and physical activity is already seen as a priority for many NHS employers, and through our Health and Wellbeing programme NHS England is keen to see this good practice spread even further.”

The winners of the 2016 Sport and Physical Activity @Work Awards are:

  • 5 Borough’s Partnership NHS Foundation Trust: Silver
  • Barking Havering &Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust: Gold
  • Barts Health NHS Trust: Bronze
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Gold
  • Central London Community Health NHS Trust: Bronze
  • Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Bronze
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust: Gold
  • NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group: Silver
  • Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust: Bronze
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust: Gold
  • Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust: Silver
  • Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust: Silver
  • Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust: Silver
  • Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust: Gold
  • Sheffield City Council – Activity Sheffield: Silver
  • South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust: Gold
  • The 52 Club University College London Hospitals: Bronze
  • The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust: Gold
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust: Bronze
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust: Gold
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: Silver