New 'wellbeing champion' role could be created at Shropshire hospitals

A wellbeing champion could be put in place at Shropshire's main hospitals to look after the needs of its staff and help reduce sickness absence rates.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Dr Catriona McMahon, chair of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), will ask for support to create the role from its board of directors during a meeting tomorrow.

In a report to the board, she says the last year of the Covid-19 pandemic has "exacerbated the need for staff support, particularly relating to mental health challenges, physical resilience and a feeling of wellbeing amongst NHS teams."

The ‘Improving Health and Wellbeing Programme’ was commissioned by the government in 2018 to improve NHS staff health and wellbeing and reduce sickness absence rates by 2022.

It followed high sickness absence rates highlighted in the annual NHS staff survey results the same year.

The report says workforce stress was viewed as a growing problem among NHS workers, and the programme found that strong leadership and good communication can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of colleagues.

In the report, Dr McMahon said: "We believe that the introduction of a board level ‘wellbeing guardian’ would send a message to our colleagues illustrating how seriously we, as leaders of the organisation, take their wellbeing and want to support their needs.

"We believe that this this role would be ideal for a non-executive director to undertake.

"It is proposed that the wellbeing guardian will take an assurance role, in which they look at the organisation’s activities through a holistic health and wellbeing lens.

"Their purpose would be to question decisions [made by the board] which might impact on the wellbeing of our colleagues; challenge behaviours which are likely to be detrimental; challenge the board to account for its decisions and their impact on the health and wellbeing of our NHS people; and remind the board to consider any unintended consequences of organisational actions and review them with a view to mitigating these."

'Pivotal'

She says the role will be "pivotal in the context of ensuring health and wellbeing is considered in the context of operational planning, including restoration of services in the organisation".

The board will be asked to approve the new role with immediate effect and to support the appointment of a new wellbeing guardian.

In another report to the trust's board, director of workforce Rhia Boyode says that the Covid-related staff absence rate stood at 4.5 per cent throughout February, with an average of five staff returning a positive test result per day.

An average of 92 staff were absent due to the requirement to shield throughout February.

She says high levels of absence were attributed to mental health reasons.

Health and wellbeing resources and wellbeing packs have been developed and distributed and 'wellbeing walks' take place every Wednesday, the report adds.

The trust's board of directors will meet online from 1pm tomorrow.

To stream the meeting live visit www.sath.nhs.uk/about-us/trust-information/trust-board-meetings and follow the link.

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