Health and well-being initiative


08 / 12 / 2011

Engagement initiatives have aimed to encourage employees to better recognise their physical and emotional needs and to feel more committed and able to contribute to the development of the organisation.

The trust worked with staff groups to address well-being issues by reviewing routines, rebranding and designing an improved specification for the occupational health and well-being service and designing a programme including a new organisational development strategy, to support the changes and improvements in engagement, capability and workforce resilience.

The organisation

What we did and why

How we did it

Results and next steps

Contact details


The organisation

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) was formed on 1 July 2006 when the county's three former services merged. It covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain, from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities. It employs around 4,200 staff and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million. Over 2,600 volunteers also make a vital contribution to the service.

What we did and why

Improving health and well-being has been adopted as a measure of success for the organisation’s management teams. Historically, YAS has had high levels of absence, mainly attributed to musculoskeletal issues and stress.

As an emergency service, staff are exposed to physical and emotional challenges which made it more challenging initially to understand how the trust could improve well-being, outside of standard support solutions. The geography of site locations also presented challenges to communications and ensuring consistency of service in the initial stages of the project.

Project objectives included:

  • establish a trust-wide, board-championed ‘employee well-being forum’ led by the trust well-being champion
  • establish a well-being intranet, covering all aspects of health promotion, prevention and benefits
  • encourage senior managers and the board to be more visible and to discuss health and well-being more openly and more regularly with frontline staff
  • deliver a trust-wide stress survey to better understand and recognise mental health issues and the importance of stress management and psychosocial care
  • ensure the OD agenda and the people management plans are totally aligned to support the managers to lead, and staff to ‘self lead’ to remain, healthy, motivated and able to do their jobs

How we did it

The project team consisted of the following roles:

  • well-being champion
  • occupational health team
  • well-being coordinator / HR Assistant
  • well-being forum members (representatives from all grades and areas across the trust)

The project team led the following subgroups and were instrumental in the design and delivery of communications relating to the programme:

  • Your Health – includes occupational health, counselling and employee support programmes, increasing psychological resilience, conflict resolution / mediation, and stress management at work.
  • Happy Living – incorporates the procurement and promotion of, a wide range of employee benefits that are available to employees through the NHS discount scheme, and also other locally negotiated benefits. It also contains ideas around ‘feel good’ activities such as charity or voluntary work.
  • Get Active – incorporates physical activity such as walking, running and cycling, several walking groups were established within the trust to encourage staff to get out of the building at lunch time and take part in a social activity.
  • Greener Living – this was an innovative effort to link the trust’s carbon management agenda with the health and well-being agenda and share resource to progress both projects, a specific example of this was when employees created a vegetable patch outside of the headquarters building.

The project activities were developed in house, with the only external input being from network partners in other NHS trusts. All training, development and meetings have been run by a cross section of YAS staff to ensure they are involved to the maximum at all times.

The trust took care to ensure staff understanding of the programme content and the anticipated benefits for staff and managers. This was delivered by engaging with individuals and teams, holding focus groups, listening and responding to comments and ideas (through timely and personal communication) and by making all work in progress  visible.

Plans are reviewed bi-monthly as part of the well-being forum to ensure timely completion of activity, and are regularly reviewed for content and quality.

Results and next steps

Key outcomes evidenced:

  • an improved well-being service based on ‘best practice’ recommendations from organisations such as the Institute for Innovation and Improvement, the NHS Confederation and the National Leadership Council
  • benefits of improving the quality of service and leadership for patients and families is more visible, as well-being and leadership rise in profile in line with project evolution.

Productivity and the contribution of the programme outcomes have included:

  • measurable improvements including the Emergency Operations Centre sickness absence rate reducing by 33%, saving £500,000 (equivalent to 20 WTEs)
  • reduction in sickness absence leads meaning more staff available to work, allowing the trust to recruit new staff with the cost savings from absence management resulting in average 999 call answering times improving from 3 seconds to 1.5 seconds
  • a healthier, more motivated workforce engaged in trust issues, vision and core purpose.

Contact details

Jayne Whitehouse
EOC Service Delivery Manager - Workforce

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