Health and wellbeing in any organisation is everyone's responsibility and we believe that our senior leaders also have a responsibility to support and champion the health and wellbeing of colleagues at board level. We recognise that decisions made by our Board impact on all our colleagues and know that having a Wellbeing Guardian on our Board will ensure that the health and wellbeing of all our colleagues is at the heart of our organisational strategy.
Dr Jeremy Wright is one of our Non-Executive Directors. He has been in his role since August 2015 and he’s our Health and Wellbeing Guardian.
What is the role of our Health and Wellbeing Guardian?
Jeremy questions decisions and challenges behaviours that impact on the health and wellbeing of colleagues.
There is a Guardian in all Trusts and Jeremy’s background is in public health, having held Director or Deputy Director of Public Health roles within Wakefield Health Authority, Sheffield Primary Care Trust and Sheffield City Council since the turn of the century, so he’s well-placed to lead this role.
What does it involve?
Jeremy works inclusively to encourage wellbeing leadership across the Board and builds on the pre-existing, internal resources of your organisation, to increase advocacy and ownership of the mental and physical wellbeing of NHS colleagues – working closely with our Health and Wellbeing Lead and Freedom to Speak Up colleagues.
We have summarised the nine board principles that NHSEI has outlined that a wellbeing guardian should support – and explained what #TeamCRH is doing to support these going forwards:
Principle one: The health and wellbeing of our NHS people and those learning and working in the NHS should not be compromised by the work they do for the NHS. We have measures in place to reduce any adverse impacts to a minimum and to offer appropriate support.
Principle two: Where an individual or team is exposed to a particularly distressing clinical event, board time should be made available to assure the board and the wellbeing guardian that the wellbeing impact on those NHS staff and learners has been checked. This in place already through with regular updates at each Board meeting on Health and Wellbeing and psychological support initiative. Jeremy Wight sits on Ashgate Steering Group where more details and specifics are discussed. There is also additional support which has been sourced through an Improving Access through Psychological Therapies (IAPT) contract with Derwent Rural Counselling Service who are able to provide trauma-response counselling.
Principle three: Regular assurance will be provided to the wellbeing guardian to ensure that wellness induction (previously wellbeing ‘check-in’) are being provided to all new NHS people on appointment and to all learners on placement in the NHS, as outlined in the 2019 NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Review’s recommendations. Process in place, with risk assessments and support conversations taking place, including for new starters. This is also monitored monthly at Tactical meetings, currently 98.7% completed. Health and Wellbeing is covered at corporate induction and already included in appraisal, with the message to be strengthened again this year. Corporate induction has recently been extended to four hours and will continue to emphasise the offer available to colleagues.
Principle four: The wellbeing guardian will receive assurance that all our NHS people and those learning in the NHS have ready access to a self-referral, proactive and confidential occupational health service that promotes and protects wellbeing. Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is in place, with self-referral option.
Principle five: The death by suicide of any member of our NHS people or a learner working in an NHS organisation will be independently examined and the findings reported through the board to the wellbeing guardian. To be addressed in the event this happens.
Principle six: The NHS will ensure that all our NHS people and learners have an environment that is both safe and supportive of their mental and psychological wellbeing, as well as their physical wellbeing. Already in place with extensive support introduced during the pandemic and longer term impacts also recognised. Further work is being prioritised to increase our understanding of the lived experience of our colleagues to ensure an inclusive and supportive culture for all.
Principle seven: The NHS will ensure that the cultural and spiritual needs of our NHS people and those learning in the NHS are protected, and equitable and appropriate wellbeing support for overseas NHS people and learners working in the NHS. This is in place, with our Chaplaincy service extended, Royal Cultural Community established and our Be Yourself Group continues.
Principle eight: The NHS will ensure the wellbeing and make the necessary adjustments for the nine groups protected under the Equality Act 2010 (including consideration for how intersectionality may impact wellbeing). This is in place, and the Be Yourself group will give further consideration to how intersectionality may impact wellbeing. As above, an update from the Diversity Council will be included in the Apr 22 EDI Paper for the People Committee.
Principle Nine: The wellbeing guardian will provide suitable challenge to the board to be assured that the organisation is working with system leaders and regulators, to ensure that wellbeing is given the same weight as other aspects in organisational performance assessment. This is in place and will develop further as the role embeds. ICS People Assurance Committee to be established.
Jeremy’s background is in public health, having held Director or Deputy Director of Public Health roles within Wakefield Health Authority, Sheffield Primary Care Trust and Sheffield City Council since the turn of the century.
He gained extensive Board level experience in the NHS in eleven years on the boards of North Sheffield and Sheffield Primary Care Trusts, and as Director of Public Health for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw PCTs during 2012-13 PCT ‘clusterings’. Jeremy has also worked as a Consultant Advisor for NICE, and serves as a trustee on three charities.
As well as his medical training and clinical experience, Jeremy has expertise in clinical governance and a wealth of experience managing budgets, including shared responsibility for a £1Bn budget for Sheffield PCT, giving him a broad understanding of the needs and perspectives of patients.
Jeremy said: ”As a medical student, many years ago, I was struck by how much time doctors spent treating people who are ill, and how little time helping people to stay well. After that, I spent a career in public health, trying to improve the health and wellbeing of populations, sometimes with some success. So it seemed natural to me that when Trusts were first encouraged to appoint ‘Wellbeing Guardians’, I should take on the role. Everyone has a right to wellbeing, and for people who work in health services, their wellbeing underpins their ability to provide optimum care for others, so it has a multiplier effect. I find it difficult to think of anything more important than the wellbeing of our staff.
Now that I am (semi-) retired, I have more time to look after my own wellbeing, more or less following the ‘five ways’ in this link : https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/.
Connecting is easier now that COVID restrictions are lifted; Cassie (our whippet-terrier cross) makes sure I stay active; I am learning (or trying to) new woodworking skills; I give time to a couple of charities which I help to run; and as for taking notice, daily walking with the dog when spring is springing so furiously does for that.”