Health at Work Update-from Dame Carol Black – February 2015

Dame Carol Black 120x150Welcome to the latest of my updates, I hope the Year has got off to a good start for you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contribution and support over the last year.

The network has grown significantly with 531 partners and 11 collective pledges. We could not have achieved any of this without you and your commitment over the years to help with the promotion, development and delivery of the pledges.

The number of NHS Trusts signed up to the Deal continues to grow with 89 currently signed up. This is encouraging and supports the commitments made in the NHS Five Year Forward Review published by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England on 23 October 2014.

I recently had the pleasure of attending and presenting the awards at the Healthy Workplace Awards ceremony in Cornwall. It was very encouraging to see the work being done by both large and small organisations in support of having a healthy workforce.

Here I am presenting the Gold Award to A&E Rodda & Sons Ltd.

Rodda and Sons Ltd






I am pleased to say we have now launched both the Alcohol in the Workplace and broadened the Chronic Conditions pledge. I would like to thank the members of the alcohol sub-group and to the Carers Task and Finish Group for their substantial contribution to the development of these pledges.

The Alcohol in the Workplace pledge (H11) already has 28 partners signed up since its launch on 21 January and a further 29 partners who have given a commitment to sign up.

The Chronic Conditions Guides (H1) pledge has been broadened to include support for unpaid carers.

Health and Wellbeing of employees is important to the rail industry. The management of, and policies for, Health and Wellbeing are the responsibility of individual companies. However there are a number of benefits of working cross-industry, such as access to expertise, economies of scale, and addressing market failure issues – it is estimated that working in collaboration could save the industry up to £32 m per year. The industry has developed a ‘road map’ to support proactive management of health and wellbeing across the industry. In 2014 the RSSB board approved the road map, which it introduced at a very successful workshop last autumn. A Health and Wellbeing Board has now been established, chaired by me, to govern and steer the implementation of the road map. A menu of products and services are being developed, which rail companies can choose from.

Railway Health and Wellbeing Roadmap







We were also delighted to visit the headquarters of HS2 and participate in their formal sign-up to the PHRD.

Over the past nine months we have been working with the Police, who are keen to be part of the PHRD.   Each local force is responsible for the health and wellbeing of its staff, constables and others. In the summer I spoke at the conference of Chief Police Officers in Harrogate, and in December I gave a lecture for the North Yorkshire Police, who are now fully committed to this agenda. I am also working with officers from Lancashire Constabulary who are keen to develop a sector-specific pledge to support their staff health and wellbeing. Police officers, as I am sure you can imagine, face far more difficult challenges during their working lives than the average worker, with work-related stress and anxiety being major issues. They are currently consulting widely with other police forces on engagement with the PHRD and a suitable form of words for a pledge. I will update you as this develops.

Higher Education is a sector that we are keen to engage.   We are still in the early stages, but are pleased that the HR Directors of the Russell Group of universities are showing an interest. It is also good to see the growing number of organisations that have joined the UK Healthy University Network, and some of these have signed up to the PHRD. Just two weeks ago Earl Howe and I attended a very successful meeting of the King’s Health Partners and the Health Innovation Network – a wonderful opportunity to publicise our work. King’s Health Partners is the first of the six Academic Health Science Centres to sign up to the Health at Work pledges.  

While the Fire Service has been facing a number of challenges since the last update, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) continues to engage with the health and work agenda.

Mind (the mental health charity) is leading on the development of a major new programme of mental health support for emergency services personnel – staff and volunteers – working in police, ambulance, fire and search and rescue services in England.  The CFOA have supported and will continue to support this work and their People and Organisational Development Director, Ann Millington, is on the advisory panel for this project.

Through the Blue Light Programme, Mind aims to:

  • Raise awareness of mental health problems, the importance of talking about mental health and the need to support colleagues through a national anti-stigma campaign aligned with Time to Talk Day in February 2015,
  • Support 100 emergency service employers to sign up to the Time to Change pledge and develop meaningful action plans to support their personnel’s mental health and wellbeing,
  • Develop a training package which includes webinars for emergency services personnel on mental health awareness and managing your own mental health, as well as face-to-face training for line managers,
  • Launch an emergency services information helpline reaching approximately 18,000 emergency services personnel – and their families – and develop and disseminate 100,000 information segments to emergency services personnel and their families,
  • Pilot a resilience building course with 432 emergency services personnel who have not been diagnosed with mental health problems,
  • Develop and pilot a clinical intervention targeted at the needs of emergency services personnel.

The Blue Light Programme is currently being developed in consultation with personnel from across police, fire, ambulance and search & rescue emergency services.

There is a lot going on in the construction industry around worker health and the Responsibility Deal which has captured people’s attention. This has helped us to get 111 organisations signed up to our Construction and Civil Engineering industries pledge (H10). From the outset, the first milestone for the construction subgroup was to spread the pledge as widely as possible within the construction industry. We now want to build on this and create some more momentum around the pledge. To this end we are currently making plans to host another Construction Partnership Forum in June this year where we invite all the construction pledge partners (to discuss progress so far) as well as key construction organisations that are still to sign up. We hope this will encourage even more organisations to become engaged and build on the success we have already seen. There have been some great innovations and real change across the industry. I will update you further as our plans develop.

Finally, we have collected a number of case studies which demonstrate the work being done by our partners and the benefits for the employer, employees and in some cases the wider community. My thanks to Bidvest 3663, Carillion, HM Revenue and Customs, Ipswich Building Society, Legal and General Plc, Luton Borough Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Nestlé UK, Phillips Electronics, Physiotherapy Solutions, King’s Health Partners, Thurrock Council and Validium. The case studies will be available here:

Please send any comments or queries to the secretariat mailbox:

Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health

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