Monday, 1 October 2012
More than 1,100 NHS Wales staff have signed up to take part in Champions for Health, a new campaign to encourage healthier lifestyles.
The response has exceeded expectations as the original aim was to recruit 1,000 staff to sign up to the six month challenge to improve their health.
Now staff from every health board and NHS trust in Wales, along with the Welsh Government’s health and social services department, are taking part. They will also be encouraging patients and the public about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.
The campaign, which begins today (Monday 1 October, 2012), will support staff to follow two healthy lifestyle changes and monitor their progress over six months enabling them to see improvement in their own health.
Dr Ruth Hussey, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said, “The response from staff across Wales to Champions for Health has been absolutely fantastic.
“Champions for Health is a great opportunity to build on the excitement created by a fantastic summer of sport and today sees the start of a six month challenge which will not only encourage NHS staff to improve their health but will set the tone for a healthier nation.
“NHS staff are our greatest ambassadors and by leading by example they will show their patients and the public how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle to ensure we have a prosperous and sustainable Wales.”
The campaign is being led by the Directors of Public Health in Wales and is supported by Public Health Wales and the 1000 Lives Plus national programme.
Staff taking part in Champions for Health from today (Monday 1 October) will be actively implementing two of five lifestyle changes:
· Drink safely
· Take regular exercise
· Eat healthily
· Stop smoking
· Work toward a healthy weight
Each person will be setting their own challenges and reporting on their progress online at regular intervals throughout the six month period.
Health and fitness advice will be available on the Champions for Health website including practical tips and information about local services such as leisure centres and classes.
Staff will also be able to share experiences and support each other to reach their goals via an online forum and social media.
The top two most popular challenges that staff have taken up are taking regular exercise and working towards a healthy weight.
Dr Sean Young, a GP in the Cwm Garw practice, Bridgend was one of the first to sign up to these two areas of Champions for Health.
As co-chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board’s ‘Staying Healthy- Changing for the Better’ group, Sean has been looking at healthy living issues among the population.
“Improving the general health and fitness of the population is essential to tackling long term demand on the health service” he said.
“The tracking element of Champions for Health will be very motivating for me. Regular measurement and that sense of ‘competition’ helped me lose weight in the past.
“I’d like to be able to exercise without becoming breathless and I hope to have lost weight and reduced my body-mass index (BMI) as a result of the programme.”
The campaign has the backing of many successful Welsh sporting stars including double Olympic Rowing Champion Tom James and 400m hurdles athlete Rhys Williams.
Rhys, from Cardiff, who competed in London 2012, said, “I am delighted to be involved in Champions for Health and hopefully encourage health service staff to see how important it is to be as fit and healthy as you can be.
“Sport has always been a huge part of my life and my family’s life but I know that for many it’s often difficult to find the time and the motivation to make lifestyle changes.
“This campaign is not about making a huge change, but small steps that will ultimately lead to a healthier, fitter body and mind.”
Evidence from the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report of 2010 showed that:
o 45 per cent of the adult population in Wales drink above the daily guidelines.
o 70 per cent do not take recommended levels of physical activity.
o 64 per cent do not eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
o 20 per cent smoke.
o 58 per cent are obese or overweight
Dr Chris Potter, who helped to develop the campaign, said that evidence suggests there is very little difference in these statistics between the general public and those who work for NHS Wales.
And with one in fifty people in Wales working in the NHS, this is a great opportunity for staff to become role models for the public.
Dr Potter, a senior lecturer in public health at Cardiff University, said: “We know that many people in Wales need to make changes to their lifestyles to improve their health and the long term health of the nation.
“Even small changes in health behaviours can lead to significant increase in life expectancy and this campaign will be about measuring changes for improvement not for judgement.
“If you become healthier you keep well for longer and can reduce the chances of developing chronic conditions that limit quality of life and put pressure on much needed resources.
“This is a chance to make a real difference and I would like to congratulate everyone who has signed up and wish them well on their journey to becoming Champions for Health.”
Source: 1000 Lives Plus