National Express health bus wins wellness award

National Express has won another national award for creating a bus that makes its employees healthier - and even saves their lives.

This time it was the national Employee Engagement Awards which recognised the bus company for building and running a mobile health centre for its staff. The “Health Buzz” travels round all National Express UK Bus garages across the West Midlands and Dundee, and provides a full range of confidential health checks to to five and a half thousand employees. It won the Wellness category at the 2016 Employee Engagement Awards - after winning the Workplace Savings and Benefits Awards ‘Best Healthcare and Wellbeing Strategy’ in September 2015.

The bus was the brainchild of Madi Pilgrim, HR Director for National Express Bus, who said: 

“The Health Bus was created because our engagement surveys showed excellent scores on safety but a need to do more on employees’ health and wellbeing. The feedback we had was that employees often found it hard to visit a doctor and this was exacerbated by working shifts. Our solution was to have a bus with a fully qualified nurse which visits all sites, and covers both day and night shifts, so we could look after after their wellbeing wherever and whenever they worked.”

The single-decker Mercedes vehicle was totally refitted by National Express engineers to become a mini health centre with two private consultation rooms and a waiting room. It is staffed by a Health Bus Co-ordinator and an Occupational Health Nurse.

Employees can talk to the nurse in complete confidence about any medical concerns. The comprehensive range of support available includes tests for: eyesight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index, lung capacity and cardiac health, using an ECG monitor. If a member of staff is referred to their GP or optician, they are given support from their manager and time off for follow-up visits. There are also information leaflets and advice available about a range of health topics. In a further key development, Unite the Union has partnered with National Express to help raise awareness on the bus about prostate cancer.

The introduction of the Health Bus led to an improvement in the business’s employee engagement score in 2014, and in 2015 this increased even further, to its highest ever score. To date nearly 3,000 employees have already had private consultations on the bus. National Express staff have commented that having the bus parked at their workplace was “Amazing,” “Just what I need,” and added that, “Doing shift work, you can't always get to a doctor.”

Seeing and visiting the Health Bus has also encouraged drivers to suggest their own ideas, including getting healthier canteen food choices, cycling to work, going running together and tracking down discounts at local gyms.

Madi Pilgrim said: 

“I am delighted with the award. The Health Bus is a real credit to the team who built it and who run it, and has been a great investment in our people by making a real difference to their health. The thing I’m most pleased about is that it has saved lives, particularly that of a driver diagnosed with acute and life-threatening undiagnosed diabetes. His doctor advised him that without our intervention he had only a matter of months to live. That’s when you know you’ve really made a difference.”

Published 10th February 2016