Quality statement 4: Implementing a physical activity programme for employees in NHS organisations

Quality statement

NHS organisations have an organisation-wide, multi-component programme to encourage and support employees to be more physically active.

Rationale

Multi-component physical activity programmes in NHS organisations should incorporate a range of measures to encourage and support their employees to be more physically active. Providing information about physical activity and promoting its health benefits should help support people who are interested in becoming more active. Identifying an 'active travel champion' (working at a senior level) to promote active travel should increase the number of NHS employees who adopt more active modes of travel for commuting and while at work. This should encourage and enable employees to increase the amount of physical activity they undertake and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Quality measures

Structure

a) Evidence that NHS organisations have in place an organisation‑wide, multi‑component programme to encourage and support employees to be more physically active.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Evidence that NHS organisations monitor their organisation‑wide, multi‑component physical activity programme.

Data source: Local data collection. Contained within the Royal College of Physicians' Implementing NICE public health guidance for the workplace – organisational audit, section 3.3: Physical activity and building/site design.

c) Evidence that NHS organisations encourage active travel through schemes that have been developed or promoted by an active travel champion.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

a) Proportion of NHS organisations with a multi‑component physical activity programme that disseminate information (including written information) on at least an annual basis to their employees on how to be more physically active and on the health benefits of such activity.

Numerator – the number in the denominator that disseminate information (including written information) on at least an annual basis on how to be more physically active and on the health benefits of such activity to their employees.

Denominator – the number of NHS organisations with a multi‑component physical activity programme.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Proportion of organisation-wide, multi-component physical activity programmes in NHS organisations that include incentive schemes.

Numerator – the number in the denominator that include incentive schemes.

Denominator – the number of organisation-wide, multi‑component physical activity programmes in NHS organisations.

Data source: Local data collection.

c) Proportion of employees in NHS organisations who take part in incentive schemes that are part of a multi‑component physical activity programme.

Numerator – the number in the denominator who take part in incentive schemes that are part of a multi‑component physical activity programme.

Denominator – the number of people employed by an NHS organisation that has incentive schemes included within a multi‑component physical activity programme.

Data source: Local data collection.

d) Proportion of NHS employees recorded as having taken part in active travel schemes that are led or promoted by their organisation within the last 12 months.

Numerator – the number in the denominator recorded as having taken part in active travel schemes that are led or promoted by their organisation within the last 12 months.

Denominator – the number of people employed by an NHS organisation with active travel schemes.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcomes

a) Proportion of employees in NHS organisations who feel supported to be more physically active.

Data source: Local data collection. The NHS staff survey (2014) contained the following questions: 14b My immediate manager takes a positive interest in my health and wellbeing; 14c My organisation takes positive action on health and wellbeing.

b) Proportion of NHS employees who use physically active modes of travel for commuting and while at work.

Data source: Local data collection. The National Travel Survey for England (2013) contains information on: Commuting/business trips by main mode (chart 15). The 2011 UK Census data contains information on: Method of travel to work for England and Wales.

What the quality statement means for NHS organisations

NHS organisations have an organisation-wide, multi-component programme to encourage and support employees to be more physically active, and monitor the uptake of the programme initiatives and incentive schemes by employees.

Active travel champions ensure that they coordinate activities, and develop or promote schemes that encourage and enable employees in their organisation to use active modes of travel, such as walking and cycling.

What the quality statement means for employees in NHS organisations

Employees in NHS organisations are encouraged and supported to be more physically active (both within and outside the workplace), and are provided with information and practical support on how to do this.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Employees in NHS organisations

In this context, employees include people who are employed directly by any type of NHS organisation. Where possible, this would also include people who are employed by any type of an NHS organisation through a subcontract, as a volunteer or as a temporary member of staff. [Adapted from Promoting physical activity in the workplace (NICE guideline PH13)]

Multi-component programme

The programme should consist of a number of components in order to ensure that employees with different needs and interests are encouraged and supported to be more physically active. It should be linked to and support achievement of the goals outlined in the organisation‑wide policy or plan for physical activity. It could include:

  • Incentive schemes such as Cycle to Work schemes and subsidised gym memberships.

  • Mechanisms to support employees to walk, cycle or use other modes of transport involving physical activity (to travel to and from work and as part of their working day). Examples of mechanisms include:

    • providing facilities such as bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities

    • ensuring that staircases are clearly signposted and attractive to use, to encourage people to use the stairs rather than lifts if they can

    • offering flexibility around taking breaks to enable employees to take short walks during work breaks

    • developing (or promoting) schemes that facilitate active travel, for example, schemes that give staff access to a pool of bicycles for short‑distance business travel, or access to discounted cycle purchases (such as Cycle to Work schemes).

  • Providing information (including written information) on how to minimise sedentary behaviour and be more physically active, and on the health benefits of such activity.

  • Written information on local opportunities to be physically active (both within and outside the workplace) tailored to meet specific needs, for example, the needs of shift workers. Examples include information about: walking and cycling routes (this may include maps), local walking groups, exercise classes, cycle training programmes and local challenges and events.

  • Ongoing advice and support to help people plan how they are going to increase their levels of physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour. This may include a confidential, independent health check administered by a suitably qualified practitioner and focused on physical activity.

To deliver the programme, employers could:

  • Ensure that when planning new developments and refurbishing existing buildings, they maximise opportunities for people (including those who have limited mobility) to be physically active as a routine part of their daily life. As part of the planning, employers should:

    • Involve local communities and experts to ensure the potential for physical activity is maximised.

    • Complete an assessment in advance, of the impact (both intended and unintended) that the proposals are likely to have on physical activity levels. Results should be made publicly available and accessible.

  • Help employees to be physically active and minimise sedentary behaviour during the working day by:

    • where possible, encouraging them to move around more at work (for example, by walking or cycling to external meetings or standing up during meetings)

    • encouraging them to set goals on how far they walk and cycle and to monitor the distances they cover.

  • Take account of the nature of the work and any health and safety issues. For example, many people already walk long distances during the working day, whereas those involved in shift work may be vulnerable if walking home alone at night.

  • Work in collaboration with other NHS organisations. This is particularly relevant for smaller organisations that may find it challenging to deliver activities in isolation. [Adapted from Promoting physical activity in the workplace (NICE guideline PH13) recommendations 2 and 3, Physical activity and the environment (NICE guideline PH8) recommendations 1, 5 and 6, Walking and cycling: local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation (NICE guideline PH41) and expert consensus]

Active travel champion

Active travel champions working in NHS organisations should be enthusiastic and passionate about physical activity, and able to engage with and support people to become more active. They should have the ability to influence people working at a senior level, and should encourage and enable employees to be more physically active.

Equality and diversity considerations

When developing an organisation-wide, multi-component physical activity programme, NHS employers should take into account the needs of employees with mental health conditions, and learning and physical disabilities. Any written information provided as part of the programme should be accessible to people with additional needs, such as physical, sensory or learning disabilities.