University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust - Gold award

University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) has been awarded a gold accreditation for its health and well-being programmes operated throughout the organisation.

The organisation

UHSM is a major acute teaching hospital trust providing services for adults and children at Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital and community services that were formerly operated by Manchester Primary Care Trust.  UHSM has approximately 5,800 members of staff, including those employed by Private Finance Initiative partner South Manchester Healthcare Limited. They also have 530 valued volunteers.

What we did and why

Staff had long indicated a desire for UHSM to develop sports and social activities on site. Linked to the 2012 Olympics, the NHS Sport and Physical Activity Challenge created an opportunity for the trust to make it happen. Working with the Joint Unions Committee, a working group of interested colleagues from across all sectors of the hospital was set up. Fit for Life was the programme title adopted by the group and set out to deliver the following objectives:

  • to encourage as many staff members as possible to get involved
  • to provide eight diverse activities based on suggestions and recommendations from staff thus providing something for everyone
  • to engage, where possible, with fitness trainers and instructors who live and work within the community served by the hospital
  • to let the trust’s virtual club develop at a pace determined by staff themselves.

Following staff consultation using face to face meetings and a range of e-communication channels, the eight activities selected included Tai Chi, Ju Jitsu, football training, rugby training, walking, cycling, yoga and hula hooping. A local Tai Chi instructor runs sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and a porter from within the trust, who is a recognised Ju Jitsu expert, takes classes twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.

The Manchester United Foundation and local Bowdon Rugby Club run dedicated sessions twice a week, but also allow staff to join in with other activities outside of working hours.

The trust operates a cycle to work scheme that has more than 150 members and a Cycling Club with another 100 members which meets every Saturday morning and is organised by a security manager and one of the trust’s governors. Volunteers also run a cycle lending facility.

Every member of UHSM has been given a pedometer to encourage walking. A mass walking event for staff and their families took place in August. For the first time, the trust proudly put forward a team of 25 staff for this year’s Manchester 10K event and 100 staff have already shown interest in taking part in the 2012 event.

The trust regularly evaluates activities and asks for suggestions on ways to improve the activities. Soon the trust’s eight activities will become nine with the introduction of Zumba on Wednesdays.

How we did it

All of the activities (except cycling club) have been selected by staff, take place in working hours and are free to all UHSM colleagues and volunteers. A trust-wide arrangement with managers is in place to allow staff wishing to join in to do so (subject to suitable cover being found – colleagues are encouraged to support each other within their teams).

Suggestions from staff are implemented, for example, six Wii Fit consoles have been purchased after some staff admitted being reluctant to join in the group exercises. These are loaned through the hospital library on a week by week basis.

UHSM has teamed up with local police who donate abandoned and unclaimed bicycles. A volunteer then repairs the bikes so they can be used by staff who would like to cycle to work, or join the cycling club but do not have access to a bicycle. To encourage more people to cycle to work, if any bike breaks down within a five-mile radius of the hospital, the trust has a service to collect colleagues and complete any repairs free of charge.

The Ju Jitsu club serves a duel role – our accredited instructor, who is also a hospital porter, works with the trust’s security team to provide simple self-defence tips to lone workers or those working late shifts who have expressed concerns about having to cross to the staff car park which is set away from the main hospital.

In January 2012 when staff will be traditionally setting themselves New Year’s resolutions, UHSM will issue gold, silver and bronze challenges to encourage people to set themselves personal targets based on the Fit for Life activities. This will run throughout 2012 and will culminate in a special ceremony in December where achievements will be acknowledged with certificates and medals, presented by the chairman and chief executive.

Results and next steps

As with all NHS organisations, UHSM is facing a difficult, challenging period of cost savings. Because the Fit for Life activities are open to all, the trust believes it helps to create a sense of teamwork and solidarity and has helped to drive down the ‘them and us’ attitudes that can build up between different professional groups. As almost all activities are during work time, managers need to be flexible to allow their staff to take part and staff have to support colleagues to ensure the smooth running of the hospital and its services.

This sense of common purpose has been a contributing factor in the significant fall in levels of staff absenteeism and sickness. A recent in-house staff survey indicated that colleagues are feeling more valued, both by their peers and their managers and report a greater sense of team working. Colleagues who regularly join in one or more of the activities say they feel healthier and have a better sense of well-being, but the greatest success to date seems to be with the Tai Chi group, many of whom say they feel more flexible, have less aches and pains and feel happier.

UHSM is working with the wider community and is a founding partner of the Wythenshawe Games which promotes the vision and values of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The theme is health and well-being through sport and lifestyle, and staff from the hospital joined others from the two housing trusts to create a ‘giant athlete’ to promote the Games at the Manchester Day Parade.

Additionally an inter-schools challenge is well into the planning stages and, after consultation with local organisations, clubs and groups, a series of agreed activities are being planned to reflect the wishes of the 70,000+ people who live in the local area. These include football, table tennis, swimming, athletics, dancing and cycling. It is hoped that every single person will engage with the Games in some way and will see a measurable improvement to their health.

This is an enormous challenge, given that Wythenshawe is home to many disadvantaged families and is acknowledged to have some of the most difficult and chronic health issues in the UK. The trust believes that the hospital, which is very much at the heart of the community, will be pivotal to its success.

UHSM is determined to help bring about change and, given that more than 70 per cent of staff live within the community, it is even more important that they share with the community what they have learned through the Fit for Life club.

Contact details

Susan Helen Osborne
Director of Communications and Engagement
0161 291 4972