Health at Work Update – from Dame Carol Black – October 2014

Dame Carol Black 120x150

Welcome to the latest of my updates, I hope you have had an enjoyable summer and managed to have a break.

The next network meeting takes place on 21 October and will be your opportunity to influence the future direction of the network and the overall Responsibility Deal. We will be looking at what the Network has achieved and give recognition to the positive work you have all done so far. This is your opportunity to feedback on what has worked and what hasn’t worked so well and your experience over the last 3 years.

Association of Chief Police Officers National Conference, 17 June 2014.
It was a great pleasure to participate in this conference. I joined Mike Cunningham, Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, in the session on Wellbeing of Staff. We had a good discussion on the PHRD and I hope that this may lead to our Police Forces joining the Network. A sector-specific pledge, as for Construction, may be appropriate.

There is also an interesting blog by Michael Brown MentalHealthCop blog; his blog is about promoting awareness of the role the police in dealing with mental health issues.

Higher Education Sector
Over the summer I have visited and lectured at the University of Staffordshire and the University of Cumbria. Here in Cambridge I have assisted the development of the ‘People Matter Week’ and also gave a lecture on Health and Wellbeing at Work. Just two weeks ago I was delighted to be invited to speak to the Human Resources Directors of the Russell Group of Universities. I feel that the Higher Education sector is an important one for us to engage with, and I will seek other opportunities to spread the message.

National Health Service
We are gradually extending our reach within the NHS and since the last Newsletter I have spent a day each at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The George Eliot has been working extremely hard to improve the health, wellbeing and morale of its staff – they are making good progress and I hope to go back there again next year. The visit to Sheffield was to hear about their journey so far and to help them think through their plans to enhance staff engagement. Staff Engagement is indeed very topical, and last week with NHS Employers we held a round-table discussion on it for the Eastern Region.

To encourage further sign up by the NHS Trusts I have recently written to the Directors of Human Resources and Organisational Development. The result to date has been 13 Trusts have signed up to the RD and a further 24 are considering signing up. This is very encouraging.

Rail Industry
It is very pleasing to see the growing involvement of the railway industry in this agenda. I have agreed to chair the Health and Wellbeing Policy Group for the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) as they begin to deliver their very-carefully-thought-through Railway Health and Wellbeing Roadmap, which has taken some 15 months to develop.

Chief Fire Officers AGM
Mark Wilson, Head of the Health and Work Team in the Department of Health, spoke at the Annual General meeting of the Chief Fire Officers Association on 16 September. Mark explained that what really struck him when he was preparing for his presentation was the amount that the Fire Service is already doing.

Clearly, there are obvious reasons why good health and wellbeing programmes and well developed health and safety policies are crucial to the Fire and Rescue Services. However, many Fire and Rescue Services are also doing really good work with the communities they serve, for example the Staffordshire Service’s Stop Smoking Referral Service.

Mark therefore focussed on the great work the Fire Service could do in the community, and also highlighted some of the big challenges on Mental Health in the Workplace. We hope to be doing more with the Fire and Rescue Services in the future.

Construction summit
In September, I chaired another high-level construction summit with representatives of the leading industry organisations and companies. This followed on from the successful Construction Partnership Forum in April. At the meeting, it was agreed that the first phase of the construction pledge, the development and launch phase, was formally over and the construction subgroup would now concentrate on further embedding the pledge into construction culture, particularly amongst small and medium sized construction companies. The construction subgroup will now be reconstituted to reflect this new focus.

The number of partners continues to rise and we now have a total of 87.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Martin Coyd for his support and enthusiasm in developing this pledge and taking this forward as he steps down from leading the construction subgroup. I look forward to working with the group during the next phase of this work.

Carers’ pledge
The broadened chronic conditions pledge to include an element on unpaid carers has now had ministerial approval and we are looking for suitable opportunities to launch. This probably will not happen now before Christmas. The text of the pledge is as follows:

“We will support our workers with chronic conditions or those with caring responsibilities by doing one or both of the following:

  • Embedding the principles of the chronic conditions guides (developed through the Responsibility Deal’s health at work network) within HR procedures to ensure that those with chronic conditions at work are managed in the best way possible with reasonable flexibilities and workplace adjustments.
  • Supporting our employees in meeting their employment obligations and external caring responsibilities in a manner that seeks to protect and promote their own health and wellbeing. And seeking to promote a workplace culture which is understanding and supportive of carers in the workforce.”

Please let us know if you would like to sign up to the broadened pledge at launch.

Alcohol Pledge
Ministers have formally signed off the wording of the Pledge as agreed by the Alcohol sub-group.

The Pledge will be:
“We pledge to promote alcohol awareness among our staff, with the aim of increasing their health and wellbeing, and thereby delivering associated improvements in efficiency and productivity.

We will do this by:

  • Embedding a workplace alcohol policy drawn up with the engagement of employee representatives,
  • Promoting alcohol awareness amongst employees, by highlighting the risks of drinking above the lower risk guidelines, and by providing information to help those employees who choose to drink to do so within the guidelines,
  • Ensuring that employees with alcohol problems receive appropriate help if they want that, and that managers know what they need to do to support them to find help,
  • Where it is felt appropriate to provide alcohol at company events ensure that it is served responsibly and that people are helped to drink within the guidelines. For example, by making sure that non-alcoholic alternatives are always available and making it clear that irresponsible alcohol consumption/behaviour is not acceptable.”

We intend for this Pledge to go live on the Responsibility Deal website in early 2015. We have decided against a formal launch. In advance of this, we will be writing to Responsibility Deal partners to seek a commitment from them (by the end of 2014) to sign up so that when it does go live, we can show that a large number of organisations have already committed to sign up, and this will encourage more to do so.

Finally, there are a couple of Publications that you may find interesting:
Improving NHS care by engaging staff and devolving decision-making; this report details the conclusions of the Review of Staff Engagement and Empowerment in the NHS, commissioned by the Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, in November 2013 and published July 2014 by The King’s Fund.

MANAGEMENT 2020 – Leadership to unlock long-term growth published July 2014 by the Chartered Management Institute.

Thank you all for your contributions and continued support over the last few months, please send any comments or queries to the secretariat mailbox:

Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health

In Health at Work Network, Network chair blogs

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