Promoting partnership working in the NHS

Partnership working at St George’s – The trust’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Staff

About the trust

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust employs around 8,000 staff working across multiple sites including acute hospital and community services. Based in Tooting, South West London they serve the populations of Wandsworth and Merton. St George’s is a major trauma centre with a helipad and features in the TV drama 24 hours in A&E.  

The challenge

Although the health and wellbeing of staff has been part of the trust’s HR strategy for a number of years with an in-house occupational health team incorporating manual handling and staff support services, awareness and take up of the services was variable.

2015 turned out to be a particularly challenging year for the trust. After achieving Foundation Trust status, the trust went into financial deficit. To tackle the deficit, the trust introduced a turnaround programme. During the first six months of turnaround, staff turnover was at 17 to 18 per cent and sickness absence between 3 and 4 per cent. The friends and family test also reported a decline in staff engagement. As a result, the health and wellbeing strategy became a key priority with an emphasis on looking after and retaining the trust’s valued staff.

The process

To deliver the project the trust established a working group of health and wellbeing champions including staff side and senior clinical representation. The working group reports to the trust’s formal partnership committee and to the board.

The first step for the group was to establish the trust’s starting position.

The current offering included:

  • smoking cessation clinics
  • flu campaign
  • rapid access appointments
  • balancing home and work policy
  • revitalised online wellbeing portal
  • stress policy
  • staff counselling
  • schwarz Rounds
  • access to a sports centre
  • local discounts
  • resilience training
  • locally managed sports events

The group relaunched the offering as a package via the executive director of workforce to demonstrate organisational commitment to wellness. The group then discussed their next steps, with lots of good ideas but very few resources.


The group shared responsibility for delivering refreshed health and wellbeing intranet pages for staff, and some new wellbeing initiatives. These included the 2015 and 2016 Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), take the stairs campaign, mindful employer renewal, London Healthy Workplace Charter and a Take a break campaign.

The trust’s 2016 staff survey scored better on immediate manager does not take a positive interest in my health & wellbeing by 51 per cent. The 2016 health and wellbeing event was rated as excellent by 51 per cent of staff, and very good by 49 per cent. A grand total of 86 per cent of the trust’s employees now meet the recommendation of 10,000 steps per day, versus 25 per cent pre GCC. The staff wellness score is 6.9 per cent above average.  

On the back of these achievements the group have been able to set up further initiatives for success in 2016:

  • psychological therapies for staff
  • pilates club
  • yoga club
  • boot camp in the community
  • staff dance off
  • introduction of a physiotherapist to occupational health
  • full time wellness manager
  • application for wellbeing CQUIN

Top tips

  • Build a HR comms partnership on your project – a good relationship with the communications team is key.
  • Identify your partners and sponsors. In our case facilities and estates, the Trust Charity, Southbank University, South East Thames College, South West London Mental Health.
  • Central coordination with clear ownership, regular meetings and a reporting line to the board.
  • Identify your senior ambassadors. In our case the executive director of workforce and divisional director of nursing.
  • Identify your staff side ambassadors.
  • Incorporate candid messaging for staff, acknowledge that times are tough and people are working hard.
  • Make health and wellbeing everybody’s business, encourage and facilitate ideas across the whole organisation.

Staff side role

  • Play an active role on the wellbeing group’s decision making.
  • Speak to staff on what health and wellbeing initiatives would be most welcomed.
  • Use this information to form the group’s debate.
  • Help manage staff’s expectations.
  • Encourage staff to get involved on the group.
  • Practical support for the running of some of the interventions.

Further information and contact information

Portia Weekes -Wellbeing Manager -

Bob Holdawanski -