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Workplace health is good for Londoners, employers and the NHS

26th September 2017

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, Chair of the London NHS Charities Group and one of the founders of Healthy Living Week, blogs about why workplace health is so important.

The NHS England Five Year Forward View sets out in stark terms how the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of our health service and the nation’s economic prosperity all depend on a radical upgrade in public health and the prevention of illness.

In these financially challenging times we know we need to do more to keep people well – and that means changing our routines at work as well as at home.

With a working population of 4.5 million, London has a comparatively high proportion of people who are of working age and in employment. The average working week in London is 33 hours – higher than the rest of the UK – and many Londoners spend several hours a day commuting as well.

All of this means it is essential that we ensure Londoners are healthy at work.

The first Healthy Living Week last year aimed to provide a platform for hospital charities, CCGs, GP practices and healthcare providers to deliver a programme of healthy events and activities to staff across the capital.

It was the first time that NHS organisations in London had teamed up en masse to celebrate and promote workplace health and the number of organisations, teams and individuals that took part far exceeded our expectations.

For this year’s event, co-ordinated by the Healthy London Partnership, we encouraged all organisations across London to get involved and we were really pleased with the response from local authorities and other employers.

Workplace health is not just the responsibility of the NHS, but as a significant employer in the capital we need to lead by example.

Our staff are the heart and soul of the NHS, so it is vital we provide them with the support and opportunities to look after their health and wellbeing. This commitment should be a reality for all NHS staff in London – whether they work in a hospital, in the community or in an office.

Anybody working in the NHS who wants to improve their health should be able to find information and support on how to do this within their organisation and there should be opportunities during the working week that encourage staff to look after their health.

At Imperial Health Charity, which supports the five London hospitals of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, we organised daily roadshows throughout Healthy Living Week aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of all NHS staff.

We are also working hard to foster a real sense of community at the Trust through group activities – running clubs, yoga sessions and gym open days – that strengthen the social aspect of the workplace while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

During Healthy Living Week, we aim to create inspirational places to work, where staff can join up with their colleagues to make being healthy a normal part of their day.

But people need support to be healthy at work, which is why this year we encouraged organisations to consider running activities and events that had the potential to be continued all year round.

We also asked Londoners to make a pledge to be healthier in the long term – in whatever way they chose. I pledged to spend more time on the tennis court.

It was great to see the enthusiasm and support for Healthy Living Week once again this year. More than 100 organisations, teams and individuals signed up – more than double the number last year – and I was really impressed by the results of everyone’s hard work.

Thanks to everyone who took part for showing their commitment to making London a healthier and happier place.”

About the author

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, Chair of the London NHS Charities Group and one of the founders of Healthy Living Week

For more information about Healthy Living Week email Hlp.healtylivingweek@nhs.net

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