Department of Health appoints wellbeing champions for NHS

The Department of Health has appointed three leading occupational health (OH) professionals to act as health and wellbeing “champions” for the NHS in England.

Helen Kirk, OH nurse and managing consultant of HK Consulting, David Maslen-Jones, head of OH at Southend University Hospital NHS Trust, and Peter Verow, consultant occupational physician at Sandwell Healthcare Trust, West Bromwich, took up their roles in May.

Each champion, of which there are six around the country, is attached to a regional strategic health authority (SHA), and will work with the SHA and local trusts on the ground to implement the Boorman reforms on improving the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

Dr Steve Boorman’s NHS Health and Wellbeing report, published in November 2009, proposed, among other things, the need for board-level champions on health and wellbeing within trusts, that senior management make it one of their annual performance measures, and that staff health and wellbeing be put at the heart of manager training, development and appraisal.

The positions, which were due to be formally unveiled by the NHS at the end of May, are being funded until the end of March next year.

“This is a huge opportunity for occupational health practitioners to be getting involved,” Kirk told Occupational Health.

“NHS occupational health departments should be finding out who is the champion for their region and getting in touch with them.”

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