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The NHS 2012 Challenge – what is it?

Inspired by the 2012 Games, David Nicholson has challenged the NHS is to use the inspirational power of the 2012 Olympics to get NHS employees actively engaged in sport or physical activity as part of, or associated with, their NHS employment, by the time the Olympics arrive in 2012.

/small images/nurseThis challenge is important to the future effectiveness of the NHS as the health and well-being of its staff is key to delivering quality care for patients. Improvements in staff health and well-being could help the NHS reduce sickness absence by up to a third, resulting in an additional 3.4 million working days a year (the equivalent of 14,900 extra staff) and an annual direct cost saving and improvements of up to £555 million.

NHS Sport and Physical Activity consists of a range of sport and physical activity programmes designed to maintain and promote staff morale. It is an opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage staff to get more physically active whilst also fulfilling responsibilities put upon NHS organisations by the new NHS Constitution.

The NHS 2012 brings this to life offering a tangible challenge to all staff in the NHS to take part in a range of physical activities with their work colleagues. Up and down the country groups of NHS people from different organisations are challenging each other and themselves to increase their involvement in fun and active physical activity and improving their health and wellbeing resulting in an improvement in their ability to offer care to our patients.

/small images/pharmajThis initiative is a practical response to Dr Boorman's NHS Health and Well-being report that set all NHS staff an 'activity challenge' to encourage our colleagues – and ourselves – to get involved in physical activity, making ourselves fitter and a better role model to patients.

The NHS 2012 challenge gives us all an opportunity to create a lasting legacy leading up to and beyond 2012 and NHS staff should use this as a catalyst for change.