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Meet the team


  • Raj Thakker - GP, Bucks CCG
  • Julia Coles, Thames Valley SCN
  • Vanessa Arnell-Cullen, Wessex SCN
  • Jess Buckley, Bucks CCG
  • Hannah Oatley, Oxford AHSN

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to your chosen theme?

The NHS has a duty to support the public (including its workforce) to improve health and is a significant employer in many communities. The most recent NHS staff survey showed fewer than 3 in 10 feel their employer takes positive action to improve staff health and wellbeing and 2 in 5 NHS staff felt sick from the stress of their job. 2016 ONS data shows absence rates are higher in the NHS than elsewhere in the public sector.

NHS Health & Wellbeing Framework “looking after the health and wellbeing of your staff is paramount” and recruiting board and clinical champions is also recommended.

Growing research shows support of wellbeing in the workplace has a positive impact on staff, business and organisations (RAND 2018)

The project will create a self-sustaining network of wellbeing champions across Thames Valley and Wessex, using QI methods so the champions spread ideas and learning quickly to support, encourage and motivate staff to take more ownership over own health and wellbeing at work.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Initially we wanted to focus on CVD health checks for staff because of the challenge to find a large undiagnosed group, and the NHS is a large employer. But local experience shows the need for staff to be in the lead; wider well-being issues can get in the way of staff acting to improve their own health.

The longer term aim would be an embedded system where all staff in the region have access to health checks and are encouraged and enabled to look after own health.

The champion network will together determine the measures, but likely to include:

– increase in activity eg number of checks/campaigns

– reducing staff turnover/sickness

– positively influence people’s perception of how their organisation feels about them (eg mini staff survey)

– use of the Health & Wellbeing Framework diagnostic tool

A measure of impact will also be if we have support from someone on each NHS Board; giving permission will be key in getting people off the ward or out from behind a desk to prioritise their health.

How will the project be delivered?

Resource for the project will focus around time to develop a network for the champions, including events to bring them together and resources that may help them in that role (eg posters, social media collateral, virtual meetings/webinars).

A recent Thames Valley clinical network event has identified an interested group of clinicians and managers who are committed to taking this work forward already.

The project will be supported by the local BHF regional team who have formal QI training and the Wessex and Thames Valley clinical networks, who have a strong track record in supporting local improvements in clinical care. Together we work in partnership with other regional organisations and charities who will lend their expertise and experience (such as Oxford AHSN and the regional PHE team).

We are also joined by the health and wellbeing lead for Buckinghamshire CCG who has already implemented a programme in her own CCG and will be a practical example for the network.

What and how is your project going to share learning throughout?

As the network develops we will use QI methods to demonstrate impact and enable concrete learning to be shared.

Very strong network CVD stakeholder groups (clinical leaders, managers, third sector partners) will be able to disseminate learning quickly through established channels. There is also an active CVD Whats App group in that provides an informal, direct and speedy way to communicate with members – a wide range of clinicians and managers, third sector and national leads.

As part of the champions’ learning, we will review different communication methods they can use internally.

The south east PHE team will share access to their networks eg Physical Activity & Health Weight  and Health Check networks, weekly Directors of Public Health cascade and Our PHE South East Highlights.

BHF has strong UK wide clinical communications and a regional team which works with the NHS and partners at a local level.

We have a supportive local AHSN who have strong local links, including regular newsletter.

How you can contribute

  • Help to engage across the region with further partner and teams who might want to be involved
  • QI skills to share with the network

Plan timeline

2 Dec 2019 Set up and planning (including recruitment)
2 Mar 2020 Design communications activity - social media, collateral
2 Mar 2020 Recruit champions from local organisations
2 Mar 2020 Seek support from senior executive teams
14 May 2020 First in person champions meeting
31 May 2020 Set up web based sharing system (whats app/yammer/slack/etc)
16 Jul 2020 Second in person meeting
20 Oct 2020 third meeting (may change depending on need of group)
14 Jan 2021 final in person meeting
10 Feb 2021 Handover plans and write up


  1. Great to see such a creative approach emerging. Good luck!

    Best wishes


  2. Hi Pip,

    Thanks for the comment! We started off thinking this would be a CVD health check piece of work, but it became clear from Jess Keeley's work in Bucks that just tackling blood pressure or physical activity only did so much, you need to get behind that and support the wider wellbeing to support staff to make changes.

  3. Sounds great. Great that you can bring in CVD as well as other wellbeing issues and that will be able to gain insight what the real issues are with the people of that community and can perhaps base new services on this insight.

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