National newspapers in the UK have just run a rather alarming story about the state of NHS employee health within the National Health Service.

The UK’s National Health Service is an incredible and vital institution and something I have plenty of direct working involvement with. And whilst these latest findings have not come as a total surprise to me, they are nevertheless very concerning…

Alarming figures

The NHS is a vast and quite remarkable organisation unlike anything that can be boasted by any other country in the world. However, it has come to light that of its 1.3million employees half are overweight and a significant proportion of that figure are technically obese. All of which is a contributing factor to the startling £2.4billion lost due to staff absence.


Staff absenteeism

And last week NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens announced that NHS staff absenteeism had reach an all new high, declaring that many ‘benefits’ were to be made available to exhausted and stressed staff. These would include: free smoking cessation programmes, Zumba classes and healthy meals in the work place.

Continue with this article in Part 2, to be published tomorrow.

My personal experience

Time seems to have flown by, but 15 years ago – shortly after my life on TV’s Gladiators came to an abrupt end thanks to a serious accident and back injury – I entered into a four year period of training and studying to be a Psychotherapist.

My placement (which is a requirement to conclude your studies and make the transition from academic study and role play to reality and real people with immediate problems) was in a large hospital in Surrey.

Although it was a 14 month placement, I ended filling a Staff Support role there for five years, as they recognised I had other skills to offer from my many years in teaching in health and fitness.

Self-healing needed!

I’m amazed just how long it has taken to start joining up the many and various strands of health in the UK. Admittedly, our NHS is coveted all over the globe and for good reason – but it also needs to heal itself! Something highlighted in this last NICE report  The issues have finally filtered through to mainstream awareness from something on the ground that those of us ‘on the inside’ have known for years and asked for further provision and support.

After all, when you most need to be cared for in your hour of need, we’d all ideally like to know that those caring for us also manage to keep their own house in order first.


Nobody’s perfect, though

I’ll put my hands up and completely admit that there have been times in my life of variety and colour, where there have been unfortunate stages during which my attention to keeping my own house shipshape has not been what it should have.

I was certainly busy and still outwardly pulling together teaching plans, delivering lectures and successfully pursuing my therapeutic work with clients, but behind the scenes I was myself  ‘hanging on’ and gradually falling apart in ways that make up so many life stories. But we live and learn!

Some time off

During such periods of upheaval it’s often suggested, especially in work as a psychotherapist, to take time out to avoid contamination of any of your work/cases. This can so easily happen, certainly in the event of any pertinent issues being brought into the room by a client and then inadvertently but suddenly impacting on your ‘current landscape’.

During my most turbulent, difficult and unfortunate time I ceased practise for this very reason – both for the good of myself and my clients. It was not an ideal situation of course, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Our work implies responsibility

It’s not always possible for other health related professions, such as the Fitness professional or Health Care professional to have the luxury to do this. Often if they are not working they are not earning.

So this questions the efficacy of the very thing that gives the foundation to which we generate and perpetuate our work. Being able to maintain our own health, motivation and wellbeing, in order to give of ourselves, our expertise and professionalism to those who are seeking it.

So when it comes to NHS employee health, this has to be a primary aim and absolutely worthy of addressing, highlighting and further supporting.

Read Part 2 Now.

To read more about Diane Youdale, visit her Expert Profile.

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