28 August 2020

An innovative Lancashire-based project to make employees’ lives healthier has received national funding.

A programme led by Active Lancashire and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and supported by the Innovation Agency, will train gym and leisure centre employees so they are qualified to conduct health screenings within workplaces.

The project forms part of a broader initiative titled Business Health Matters, which will help to better identify ways in which employees and employers can start to address conditions like back pain, poor mental health or diabetes before they become life limiting or impact people’s ability to live healthy lives as they age. Additional benefits will include sustained employment and increased productivity.

The project, which will receive nearly £65,000, is one of only seven in the country to secure Government funding from the UK Research and Innovation’s industrial strategy challenge fund for healthy ageing.

Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear said:

“We’re delighted to support this innovative project which aims to improve the health of thousands of workers within Lancashire. We know that poor health impacts on people’s ability to work and that can lead to a downward spiral of declining physical and mental health.

“Providing health checks in local gyms and leisure centres and helping people to look after themselves better has the potential to prevent illness – and boost workforce productivity.”

Chief Executive of Active Lancashire Adrian Leather said:

“We have not seen this innovative approach to workplace health on a scale like this in Lancashire or elsewhere in the UK before. We are leading on something truly original and believe our Business Health Matters scheme will have a huge positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the county’s workforce.”

UCLan’s School of Medicine has developed a screening tool which will enable leisure services’ staff to administer the screening process, which is consistent with the national screening programme currently provided by GPs. This screening tool will be coupled with a suite of mental and physical health interventions that can support working-age individuals.

Professor StJohn Crean, UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), said:

“The project has the potential to reduce demand on GP services, engage a new workforce in the delivery of health-related services at a time of shortages of trained health staff and reduce demand on high cost acute services. We are delighted to be collaborating on the ground-breaking programme and we look forward to working with leisure professionals throughout Lancashire.”

The scheme is being supported by a wide range of interested bodies including Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, the county’s Chambers of Commerce, Lancashire Mind, Sport England, UK Active and Lancashire County Council.

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire LEP, said:

“This is a fantastic partnership which is bringing together so many of the county’s major organisations. The desire for all to work collaboratively to help the lives of Lancashire people is tremendous.”

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