NHS Staff get in Touch with Rugby
The RFL and Rugby Football Union have agreed an historic partnership to run Touch Rugby programmes for NHS staff across the country.
The initiative which aims to boost the number of NHS staff participating in physical activity will see development staff from both sports governing bodies running 20 regional Touch Rugby competitions with standardised rules between March and July 2011.
David Gent, the RFL's Director of Participation and Strategic Partnerships said: “The RFL is delighted to be involved in this initiative which will help encourage more NHS staff to get active and participate in sport.
“Touch Rugby is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy, learn the basic skills required for both codes of Rugby and have fun at the same time.
“There’s a huge social side to the activity and research carried out by the NHS shows that employees that have participated in Touch Rugby have increased their motivation at work and benefited from improved working relationships with their colleagues."
Jez Allman, Head of Club and Constituent Body services at the RFU said: “We have seen an explosion in interest in Touch Rugby and as a Union, we see this as a key element in driving player participation and retention in the game.
"Working with our partners in Rugby League, this is a fantastic opportunity to take the sport of Rugby and its associated benefits into the work place.
”As well as running the competitions, development staff from both organisations will help to link interested players with local clubs to extend their participation opportunities."
Research carried out by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust revealed that employees that took part in their Touch Rugby tournament benefited from a huge increase in personal and workplace motivation.
Heart of England which is one of the busiest NHS Trusts in the UK and encompasses four sites based in and around Birmingham started a Touch Rugby tournament in 2008 with support from the RFL and local Rugby League Conference side Birmingham Bulldogs.
The successful initiative involved around 200 participants and enabled the Trust to promote work-life balance, exercise and health advice in line with the health and well-being agenda with the NHS and most importantly encouraged staff to socialise and enjoy themselves.
After the overwhelming success of the inaugural competition in Birmingham, the 2009 Touch Rugby Tournament saw 400 players take part and questionnaires were given out to a random selection of the participants.
The results revealed that after playing in the Touch Rugby programme 50 per cent of players increased their motivation at work and 83 per cent of players increased their working relationships with their team members.
60 per cent of participants increased their motivation in their personal life, 75 per cent of players increased their motivation to get fit and most importantly of all 95 per cent of players enjoyed being a part of the NHS Touch Rugby Tournament.
NHS Project Manager for Touch Rugby, Richa Gautam said: “I am extremely excited by the prospect of Touch Rugby being taken up nationally throughout the NHS.
“The scheme has successfully been run at a number of NHS Organisations over the past few months with positive results already being seen.
“The project has continued to grow in strength and I am confident that the initiative provides good value for money and that the benefits exceed the investment put into the programme.
“We are proud of what the Trust has achieved so far and our aim is to get Touch Rugby programmes set up at every health organisation in England in a quest for a fitter, happier and healthier staff group.
“By this time next year, we hope to host the first ever NHS national Touch Rugby finals.”
NHS Touch Rugby is part of the wider NHS Challenge programme to get 2,012 people in each Primary Care Trust area active by 2012.
This could equate to around 25 to 30 per cent of the NHS work force becoming more active and help to reduce sickness by up to a third.
For more information on the project visit www.sportandphysicalactivity.nhs.uk/touchrugby or contact the national lead firstname.lastname@example.org