Published on: 18 October 2019

Sarah Johnson, a midwife at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, has been appointed to work for Public Health England (PHE)IMG_9802.jpg as a Physical Activity Clinical Champion.

One of only 50 clinical champions in England, and the second midwife to ever be appointed to the role, Sarah will working across the North West, training registered healthcare professionals and undergraduates on the importance of physical activity.

The Physical Activity Clinical Champions project was developed to increase the knowledge, skills and confidence of healthcare professionals in promoting activity to patients and is part of a wider PHE and Sport England programme called ‘Moving Healthcare Professionals’. The Moving Healthcare Professionals programme has been developed to reduce inactivity at a population level and improve health and quality of life outcomes. Lack of physical activity is a top ten cause of the disease burden in England. Around 1 in 3 men and half of women are not achieving guidelines, with people with long term conditions twice as likely to be amongst the least active.

Since 2011, there has been increasing evidence to support the health benefits of regular physical activity for all groups of people. In adults, there is strong evidence to demonstrate that regular physical activity can protect from a range of chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, mental health problems and social isolation.

“My new role will focus on empowering clinical staff with the understanding the importance of physical activity and the benefits it can provide, which is something that’s often overlooked in clinical training”, said Sarah.

“I’ll be visiting locations across the region and providing information and support to clinical staff. Being a Physical Activity Clinical Champion will provide lots of networking opportunities and a chance to meet healthcare professionals across the region, as well as strengthening my knowledge around physical activity and the benefits for staff and patients too.”

Physical activity is incorporated across NICE clinical guidance, with evidence suggesting 1 in 4 people would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, yet nearly three quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence. Regular physical activity can deliver cost savings for the health and care system and has wider social benefits for individuals and communities. These include increased productivity in the workplace, and active travel can reduce congestion and reduce air pollution.

Christine Pearson, Director of Nursing at the Trust, said: “It’s fantastic news that Sarah has been appointed in to this role, we’re very proud of her.”

“Although Sarah will be completing work as a Physical Activity Clinical Champion outside of her Trust work time, having a PHE Champion working within our Family Care Division, with her knowledge of the benefits of physical activity and how to encourage good practice, will benefit staff and patients alike.”