The University Hospitals of Leicester highlight why staff health and wellbeing are essential for good patient care

High quality patient care in the NHS is reliant on staff who are feeling well, are happy and are in work. 

For this reason, University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL), one of the UK’s largest acute teaching hospitals, is improving the health and wellbeing of its 16,500 employees through its health and wellbeing programme.

Linsey Milnes, a former matron in the Emergency Department, who is now a Senior Staff Engagement Manager and leads the programme explains why staff health and wellbeing is so important.

She says, “Our staff are providing front line care and compassion to patients, their work can be stressful and take a toll – particularly at this busy time of year.  If we look after our staff well, they can look after patients. It is also our duty of care to ensure staff are fit, well and resilient, so their good health and wellbeing are vital.”

“We are lucky that funds from our staff lottery are invested into the programme, and this has enabled us to introduce fantastic initiatives, such as Bollywood dance classes, Reiki, Zumba and floristry and half price vouchers for Slimming World, amongst other things.”

One of the biggest challenges for UHL was creating a health and wellbeing programme that met the needs of all its staff. To do this, they review and analyse data obtained from the NHS Staff Survey, employee sickness absence figures and feedback from staff accessing different aspects of the programme to, give the Trust a clearer picture of their workforce health and wellbeing and what initiatives staff would most value and benefit from.

UHL has also created a steering group for health and wellbeing involving staff from occupational health, the psychological support service and the staff physiotherapy service. This group reviews the existing health and wellbeing support regularly to understand what is working well and what might be missing.

Health and Wellbeing Champions have signed up across the trust to help spread the word, and quarterly newsletters are produced for staff to communicate the support services in place and any health and wellbeing events. Linsey and her team also go out and meet staff to talk to them about health and wellbeing regularly. They also provide training in key areas and invite comments, ideas and feedback from staff.

Linsey says, “Some of our staff don’t have access to computers so it is important we see them face to face. We also run health and wellbeing information stands around the hospitals. These might mirror national health campaigns, such as World Mental Health day, to give them more impact. In November, for example, we will focus on men’s health and promote the ‘Movember’ campaign. In January, the theme was ‘Looking After UHL’ and we held health stands where staff could come and have their BMI and blood pressure checked whilst accessing information to help look after their physical and mental health.”

Recognising and appreciating staff is central to the wellbeing programme. One initiative is called ‘Above and Beyond,’ which allows staff to nominate colleagues they wish to thank, who then receive a message of thanks and a balloon pin badge.  ‘Above and Beyond’ is so successful that 700 to 900 nominations are being made each month.

Wellbeing and engagement is particularly important in nursing. Under the leadership of Chief Nurse, Carolyn Fox OBE, nurses are being rewarded and celebrated. Carolyn believes passionately that celebrating and appreciating nurses has a huge role to play in improving standards of patient care and increasing morale amongst the nursing community. Recognising excellent nursing practice is at the heart of her approach.

Carolyn has introduced the DAISY awards, which honour and celebrate the skilful, compassionate care that nurses and midwives provide. She has also supported the national Cavell Star awards programme within the Trust which sees the nursing and midwifery family celebrated for their care and support for patients, colleagues and patient’s families. 

UHL also runs awards for staff called ‘Caring at its Best’ which are aligned to the Trust Values and nominations are submitted by both staff and patients who want to recognise staff for their exceptional care.

Linsey concludes, “We have lots of new plans this year to develop our health and wellbeing programme even further to ensure the continued good physical and mental wellbeing of our staff.”

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is part of the recruitment campaign Y/Our Future that unites five major health and social care employers – University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, LOROS Hospice, Rutland County Council and Leicester City Council – to recruit doctors, nurses and health and social care workers to work in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Y/Our Future aims to promote Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland as a leading career destination for health and social care professionals, with great career and lifestyle opportunities.

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