“This is a crisis meeting. We can’t go on as we are. Get out of your silos. Our collective vision is that we want to do this.” Dr William Bird, Chief Executive, Intelligent Health
“Thank you for a thought-provoking event whose key messages will stick with me for a long time to come.” Jessica Auton, Managing Director, Aseptika Ltd
“It is very important that the NHS and physical activity partners/deliverers are better linked up. We will only succeed if we work in partnership.” Laura Godfrey, Exercise Coordinator Age UK Oxfordshire)
Lead AHSN and joint partners
Oxford AHSN, Public Health England, Oxfordshire Sport & Physical Activity, Get Berkshire Active, and Leap (Bucks and Milton Keynes Sport & Activity Partnership)
Get Physical, held at the Oxford Belfry, Milton Common, Oxfordshire in December 2015, was a pioneering half-day interactive event to share the growing evidence that physical activity can prevent or treat up to 23 long-term conditions including arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, dementia and diabetes, build confidence, reduce social isolation, and significantly contribute to improved mental health.
Key points at a glance
After an initial feasibility meeting in May 2015, the Oxford AHSN assembled a steering group, chaired by Dr Paul Durrands, which comprised its joint partners (as above), Health Education England Thames Valley, and Occupational Health from Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NHS FT) and Oxford Health NHS FT.
With input from the AHSN Clinical Network leads and keynote speaker Dr William Bird, this group devised the Get Physical Event to involve regional healthcare and sports professionals from a broad range of specialities including primary and secondary care clinicians, nursing staff, physiotherapists, commissioners, local and regional councils, activity and service providers, industry and advisors.
The programme was planned so delegates could exchange examples of best practice and explore strategies encouraging NHS staff and patients to incorporate regular exercise into their daily lives leading to improved health and an enduring sense of wellbeing. To underline the importance of keeping active throughout the day, the event opened with 5 minutes of tai chi exercises and finished with Bollywood dancing.
Challenges identified and actions taken
Two workshops explored the challenges and benefits of introducing exercise into the workplace and into patient care pathways. Shift-work patterns and stress are particular challenges faced by NHS staff. Patients are reluctant to exercise, although growing evidence suggests regular exercise will reduce the chronic inflammation underlying much common illness, including cancer. Four separate workshops delved more deeply into the care of patients with mental illness, dementia, diabetes and cancer. Common themes emerged across all workshops. Delegates called for staff or patient-led programmes to ensure physical activity is meaningful, fun and enduring. Physical activity must be a priority in clinical care, not an afterthought, and as important as medication or therapy. Everyone who comes into contact with a patient at any stage of their illness or recovery, from receptionists to clinicians, should be trained to explore physical activity options with the patient as an integral part of their care pathway.
A report is available to download at www.getphysical.org.uk. Video interviews will be available from January 2016.
Plans for the future
The Steering Committee met before the end of December 2015 to consider feedback from speakers and delegates collected on the day and by online survey,and to debate what further actions are feasible against a background of available resources.
Contact for further information
Dr Paul Durrands, Chief Operating Officer, Oxford Academic Health Science Network: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This case study is published in the Oxford Academic Health Science Network’s Quarter 3 2015/16 report available for download from www.oxfordahsn.org. ©Oxford AHSN 2016.