More than 60 different NHS organisations and around 120,000 London employees took part in London’s second Healthy Living Week last week.
Healthy Living Week, which runs from 25 to 29 September, aims to make workplaces in London healthy, inspiring places to work, where staff can join up with their colleagues to make being healthy a normal part of their day.
This year the campaign moved beyond NHS organisations with a number of non-NHS organisations picking up the charge to help London’s working population by raising awareness of the importance of good workplace health.
There is a huge case for supporting Londoners to be healthier in the workplace. The NHS England Five Year Forward View set out how the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. The Better Health for London report also highlights the importance of prevention and includes an aspiration to make work a healthy place to be in London with an ambition to gain 1.5 million working days a year by improving employee health and wellbeing in the capital.
With a working population of 4.5 million people in London, a comparatively high proportion of Londoners are of working age and in employment. The average working week in London is 33 hours so it’s vital that Londoners are encouraged and supported to be healthier at work as well at home and in their leisure time.
Jemma Gilbert, Head of Prevention at Healthy London Partnership, said:
“Healthy Living Week is designed to be a fun way for Londoners to join up with their colleagues in the workplace to take part in activities and events that improve their health and wellbeing.
“However, there is a serious message behind Healthy Living Week and it’s important that all employers in London recognise the importance of encouraging and supporting their staff to be healthy at work.
“11.7 million working days were lost in Britain due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16. As the Better Health for London report points out, it is in employers’ interests to promote good health to their staff as each year London employers lose £1.1 billion due to stress, anxiety or depression.
“We know that the NHS performs poorly across many measures of staff health and wellbeing, with sickness absence rates that are 27 per cent higher than public sector average and 46 per cent higher than the average for all sectors.
“The NHS’s greatest asset is its people. Without its doctors, nurses, paramedics, porters, clerks, managers, assistants, therapists and many others there would no health service so we need to lead the way in London and do all we can to support our staff to be healthier at work.”
Healthy Living Week saw organisations and teams across the capital host a wide range of events to promote health and wellbeing. Activities ranged from lunchtime walks, early morning fitness classes and juice bikes in breaks, to health campaigns, mental health awareness sessions, zumba and healthy sharing lunches.
With London organisations outside the NHS also encouraged to join Healthy Living Week this year, more than 100 organisations, teams and individuals in total signed up to take part.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, London Region Director of Public Health England and Healthy London Partnership Prevention Board Chair said:
“The number of NHS organisations that took part in Healthy Living Week last year far exceeded our expectations and this second year has been no different with many more organisations, teams and individuals signing up.
“Healthy Living Week is a great opportunity to showcase how we are taking steps to make workplaces healthier and it’s fantastic to see how enthusiastically it has been welcomed by staff in London.
“We spend many of our waking hours at work and small, simple changes can have a big impact. Supporting staff to get active, quit smoking or cope with stressful lives is something we can all get involved in. Many Londoners spend long hours commuting but getting off the tube one stop earlier and walking briskly for 10 minutes every day with the help of our Active 10 app can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as reducing stress and anxiety and helping with back pain.”
Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, Chair of the London NHS Charities Group and one of the founders of Healthy Living Week said:
“I am delighted that so many NHS Trusts and other organisations again participated in Healthy Living Week.
“This year we wanted to encourage all organisations across London to get involved and we were really pleased with the response from local authorities and NHS partners.
“People need to be supported to be healthy at work every day which is why this year we encouraged organisations to consider running Healthy Living Week activities and events that can potentially be continued all year round. We also encouraged Londoners to make a pledge to be healthier in the long-term – in whatever way they chose – for Healthy Living Week.
“Mental and physical wellbeing is so important, and the activities and events planned for the week are aimed at giving those taking part a much-needed boost during their busy working days. We hope that Healthy Living Week continues to grow each year to support making work a healthier place to be for all Londoners.”
- Healthy Living Week has been developed in collaboration with Healthy London Partnership, London’s clinical commissioning groups, hospital trusts and their charities.
- Stoptober is the 28-day stop smoking challenge from PHE that encourages and supports smokers across England towards quitting smoking for good. Stoptober encourages as many smokers as possible to prepare to quit from 1 October. There are a range of free resources and support available, which includes an app to help smokers quit. Visit the Stoptober website or search ‘Stoptober’ online.
- PHE’s free Active 10 app shows people how much brisk walking they are currently doing and provides tips and encouragement on how people can fit 10 minute bursts of brisk walking into their day. For further information: www.nhs.uk/oneyou
- For more information about Healthy Living Week or interviews or photos contact Healthy London Partnership Communications Manager Emma Pickles on 07815597192 or at emmapickles.nhs.net