Getting Physical in the Workplace

Swansea NHS staff take a healthier way to work

Traffic problems at Singleton Hospital came to a head in 2005, when the Swansea hospital’s bus routes were suspended. Managers saw this as an opportunity to find a healthy alternative – by encouraging staff to walk or cycle into work.

A survey identified the distance people were travelling into work. With nearly 40% living within a 4-mile radius, there was a clear opportunity to promote active commuting. Especially as less than 1% of staff were already walking or cycling in.

The NHS Trust sought the advice of the Sports Council, with a view to increasing physical activity levels while relieving the traffic problem.

Various measures were introduced to kickstart the initiative:

  • Refurbishment of locker rooms as full changing facilities
  • Provision of cycle storage facilities
  • Purchase of a bicycle pool and cycling equipment
  • Cycle Confidence Sessions for staff
  • Training staff as Cycle Leaders
  • Upgrading existing paths as safe cycling routes
  • Free breakfasts for walkers and cyclists

The Sports Council supplied a grant of £20,000 to help cover the costs - while the Trust part-funded the scheme and invested the time of its Travel & Transport Co-ordinator.

As the project moves forward, the Trust is keeping a close eye on the results - aiming to build the fitness of staff at other sites over the next 3 years.

Early success will be measured by monitoring the number of converts who regularly walk or cycle into work, and how many make the ultimate sacrifice - surrendering their parking permits!