Minister praises Hartlepool over efforts to get council staff living healthier

The Public Health Minister Jane Ellison visited Unity College in Blackpool to discuss health issues in the resort.'The minister during the discussion.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'16-4-2014
The Public Health Minister Jane Ellison visited Unity College in Blackpool to discuss health issues in the resort.'The minister during the discussion. PIC BY ROB LOCK'16-4-2014

A GOVERNMENT Minister has praised Hartlepool Borough Council for winning an inaugural award for how authorities increase the health of their staff.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison awarded the council the first Public Health Minister’s Award.

Jane Ellison

Jane Ellison

The award was developed by the Department of Health and Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to recognise excellence in public health.

The council developed its ‘Workplace Wellbeing Strategy’ after assessments highlighted low physical activity, high alcohol and tobacco intake and poor diet as challenges within its workforce. It has embedded workplace health and wellbeing activities into its organisational culture by engaging with and using the skills of stakeholders and staff and offers a wide range of activities, from walking challenges to mental health support, which have reduced staff absences, as shown by benchmarking against other local authorities.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “A person’s health has a massive impact on their working and personal life and it is vital that employers recognise this.

“Supporting people to make even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to well-being and I was really impressed by the shortlisted nominations for this award. The winner, Hartlepool Borough Council, has clearly taken all these messages to heart.

“Not only will staff benefit from positive changes – there is great potential to increase efficiency and cut staff absence rates. I congratulate every organisation who entered and want to see these excellent examples of good practise shared across our country.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of RSPH, said: “With sickness absence and worklessness as a result of ill health costing the UK economy an estimated £100 billion a year and the population facing worrying trends in ill health, it is crucial the workplace is regarded as a key setting in which to improve and promote health.”

Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Public Health Minister’s Award, as it really acknowledges the superb workplace health initiatives we have developed across Hartlepool.

“The health and wellbeing of our staff, and all employees of all businesses and organisations in Hartlepool, is a top public health priority. Winning this award is a huge honour and we are extremely proud to be the winners this year.”