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Champions for Health – new campaign for a healthier Wales launches today

Wednesday, 15 August 2012
A new campaign to encourage NHS staff from across Wales to become healthier and encourage their patients and the public to do the same will be launched today (August 15, 2012) at the Sport Wales National Centre, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.
The Olympics may have ended, but NHS Wales’ staff will be asked to take up the baton and sign up to a six month challenge to improve their health.
The Champions for Health campaign aims to recruit 1,000 staff from across NHS Wales to choose two healthy lifestyle changes that they are prepared to commit to improve.
Individuals will be able to monitor their own progress throughout the campaign and hopefully at the end of the six month time period show improvement in their health

Building on energy and excitement

Bob Hudson, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales, 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 both improve their own health and act as ambassadors to their patients and the public on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and the benefits it brings.
“Improving health is everyone’s business and this campaign will hopefully lead to healthier staff and a healthier nation.”

An all-Wales campaign

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.
Every health board and NHS trust in Wales is backing the new campaign and will be encouraging staff to sign up by registering on the Champions for Health website.
Staff will be asked to commit to two of five lifestyle changes:
  • Drink safely
  • Take regular exercise
  • Eat healthily
  • Stop smoking
  • Work toward a healthy weight
Evidence shows that even small changes in health behaviours can lead to significant increase in life expectancy. For example, giving up smoking can add up to five years of life and eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day could add a further three years to life expectancy.
Each person will be asked to report on their progress online at regular intervals throughout the six month period.

Recruits needed

Today (August 15, 2012) sees the launch of the recruitment stage of Champions for Health, with the six month challenge itself beginning on Monday, 1 October, 2012.
Successful Welsh sporting stars are backing the campaign, including double Olympic Rowing Champion Tom James and Wales’ rugby legend and commentator Jonathan Davies.
Tom James, from Wrexham, who won Gold in the men’s coxless four in London only a week ago, said: “Champions for Health is an exciting initiative and I am delighted to be involved.
“Encouraging health service staff to become healthier by making some key lifestyle changes and then motivating the general public to do the same could make a real difference.”
Former Wales’ rugby union captain and Wales and Great Britain rugby league star, Jonathan Davies from Trimsaran, Carmarthen said: “Sport has always played a big part in my life – but I appreciate that for many people, this doesn’t come so easily.
“Champions for Health is a great opportunity for those in Welsh healthcare to inspire others to lead a healthier life as a result of this exciting initiative.”

Training programme

The campaign 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. This will enable more staff to become advocates for personal health improvements with patients, colleagues and wider communities.
Champions for Health supports the Welsh Government’s five year strategy, ‘Together for Health’, which emphasises the need for everyone in Wales to take greater responsibility for their own 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.
“I am looking forward to seeing the difference this campaign can make and would encourage staff to sign up today to become Champions for Health.”
Further details are available at www.championsforhealth.wales.nhs.uk
Champions for Health is also on Twitter ( @C4H_Wales)