15th August 2012

‘Champions for Health’ Campaign to Encourage Welsh NHS Staff to Lead by Example

A campaign to encourage 1,000 staff in the NHS in Wales to follow healthy lifestyles and become fitter themselves is being launched, to encourage patients and the public to follow suit.

Staff will be asked to commit to two of five lifestyle changes: drink safely; take regular exercise; eat healthily; stop smoking; and work toward a healthy weight, with each participant being asked to report progress online at regular intervals throughout the six month period.

The scheme – titled ‘Champions for Health’ – is backed by Welsh sporting stars including Wrexham’s Olympic gold medal rower Tom James, and former Wales fly half Jonathan Davies.

Among the first to sign up is Swansea paramedic Richard Hook, father of rugby player James. The 55-year-old, who has agreed to take physical exercise and eat healthily, said: “Working the hours that I do, I often find it hard to eat healthily and I really want to get back to the weight I was a few years ago.”

‘Champions for Health’ is being led by the directors of public health in Wales and the 1000 Lives Plus national programme, and will be followed by a training programme to encourage staff to become more skilled and confident in providing advice on healthy lifestyles at every opportunity.

Every health board and NHS trust in Wales is backing the campaign and will be encouraging staff to sign up by registering on the Champions for Health website.

Public Health Wales chief executive Bob Hudson said: “Champions for Health is a fantastic opportunity to build on the energy and excitement created by the Olympic Games, encouraging people to lead fitter, healthier lifestyles.

“By leading by example, NHS Wales’ staff will not only improve their own health, but act as ambassadors to their patients and the public on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and the benefits it brings.”

‘Champions for Health’ supports the Welsh Government’s recently announced five year strategy, ‘Together for Health’, which emphasises the need for everyone in Wales – including healthcare staff – to take greater responsibility for their health.

Dr Chris Potter, senior lecturer in public health at Cardiff University, said: “Good health is vital to ensure we have a prosperous and sustainable Wales.

“This is a powerful opportunity for our NHS staff to lead from the front by making lifestyle changes that will improve their health and influence others to do the same.”

(This article has been amended by MediWales.  For the original article, please click here)