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Northumbria chosen as national Active Hospital to encourage patients to move more

Wednesday, 14 October, 2020
Northumbria chosen as national Active Hospital to encourage patients to move more

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been chosen as one of only three organisations in the country to be part of the Active Hospitals pilot to promote physical activity to benefit patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Building on the success of existing work to improve the public health of its population, the trust will further embed conversations about moving more as part of the everyday interactions staff have with patients in hospitals, starting next year.

Alongside conversations in hospitals, Northumbria will focus on patients receiving outpatient care in a number of areas including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and heart failure as well as patients living with cancer in the community, with staff trained to provide support to help them become more active.

The trust will also develop its hospital environments to prompt and enable physical activity with messages that will encourage and reinforce being more active in order to benefit patients physically, mentally and socially.

Northumbria Healthcare was chosen for the pilot – funded by Public Health England, Sport England and the National Lottery and led by the NHS Transformation Unit – following a successful bid alongside North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Judith Stonebridge, consultant in public health at Northumbria Healthcare who led the bid, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have been chosen to be part of the national Active Hospitals pilot for the next two years.

“To be one of only three organisations across the country to be selected to take this forward is testament to the great work we’re already doing and our vison as a trust to make a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of our communities.

“Every day in our hospitals thousands of conversations take place between our frontline staff and our patients and, with evidence suggesting that one in four people will increase their activity levels if advised to do so by a clinician, this pilot is all about integrating physical activity into those and making every contact count.

“We all know the benefits being a little bit more active can bring to our physical health, however, the knock-on positive impact on people’s social and mental wellbeing is also a key factor of this work.

“Whilst this pilot focuses on our patients and, from next year, people will see messages promoting physical activity in our hospitals, we will also be using this opportunity to work with our staff to see how we can support them to be more active too.”

The approach takes account of the levels of physical inactivity in the trust’s target population, working on the principles of ‘movement before activity’ and ‘some is good, more is better’.

Designated walking routes with times from hospital entrances to departments and ‘active’ waiting areas where people are encouraged to stand rather than sit are set to be introduced along with reception staff signposting people to stairs rather than lifts.

In addition, two wards caring for elderly patients will be designated ‘active’ where there will be additional therapist time to build confidence, support and strength among patients to move more and signpost and refer them to suitable community groups to continue this when discharged from hospital.

Jonathan Kelly, head of physiotherapy at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Being an Active Hospital is a great opportunity to better support our patients who are being cared for on our wards to move more.

“Providing earlier and more frequent interventions will make a huge difference to patients’ recoveries by improving their strength and balance and ultimately helping them to leave hospital sooner.

“The benefits will not stop there, however, with our teams using our links in the community to further support and guide patients to continue to be more active when they’re back home.”

The Active Hospitals project forms part of the national Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme which aims to create large-scale change across the NHS, where the benefits of physical activity are promoted prominently across healthcare services.

Alex Heritage, chief executive for NHS Transformation Unit, said: “Recent events have placed an even greater importance on physical activity and the benefits it provides to the health and wellbeing of the population.

“We are delighted to be working alongside the Active Hospital sites to create sustainable and seismic change across clinical care pathways, embedding innovations and the Active Hospitals approach.”

Media contact:

Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680