Profile picture of xx


  • Funding
  • Workplace environment
  • Dedicated rest area



The 2022 NHS Staff Survey found over 21% of respondents often or always felt every working hour is tiring for them (NHS Staff Survey, 2023) and a BMA survey, the same year, found 38% of doctors said the lack of available rest space was having a 'negative' or 'significantly negative' impact on their wellbeing at work (British Medical Association, 2022). Adequate rest areas are an effective way to support the wellbeing of frontline staff and their ability to deliver high quality patient care, but constraints on space and funding in trusts mean this is all too often difficult to ensure.

In October 2022, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (RBFT) opened a dedicated staff health and wellbeing centre, the Oasis, separate from the buildings delivering patient care. Soon after its opening, we spoke to RBFT about this dedicated area and the trust’s ambition to enable staff to rest and recharge during their working day and improve their wellbeing (NHS Providers, 2022). Checking back in with them a year later, the Oasis has delivered clear benefits for its staff.

However, it has only been possible due to the combination of a significant private donation, capital investment from the trust itself and a close working partnership with the Royal Berks Charity. This highlights the importance of appropriate dedicated capital funding to enable good physical working environments – something which NHS Providers has long noted is lacking at national level (NHS Providers, 2023).


Appropriate rest spaces

RBFT is one of the first trusts in the country to provide a bespoke health and wellbeing centre for its staff. One year after opening, the centre has averaged 2,800 visits per month, with roughly half of all staff visiting the building at least once, and the benefits for wellbeing are clear.

The trust has seen a 6% improvement in staff feeling supported by the trust and they are now 12% above the national average for all acute trusts for staff agreeing that positive action has been taken on their health and wellbeing (NHS Staff Survey, 2023).

The Oasis has also had a direct impact on staff morale, one staff member said: "The ability to take advantage of the facilities at the Oasis during my break helps me feel valued and supported as a member of RBFT staff. Taking my break in a non-clinical, patient-free area helps me re-set and relax and puts me in a more positive frame of mind for the rest of my shift".

This shows how investment to ensure break spaces for staff are functional and remain protected for staff-only use can improve wellbeing and productivity of staff and thereby have a positive impact on patient care.


Access to occupational health

Additionally, in partnership with Reading Borough Council and the BOB Integrated Stroke Delivery Network, the trust recognised the difficulties staff were having in being able to access health check services outside of work. The Royal College of Physicians (2015) highlight that due to the physical demands of working in a healthcare environment, NHS staff are more likely to incur a work-related illness or injury than comparative staff in other sectors. Taking this into account, the partnership agreed to invest in a project to provide free staff health checks to staff over 40yrs old (in line with the NHS health checks), from the Oasis. Within 72 hours of its launch all 300 initial appointments were booked. To date over 740 staff members have had a health check (around a quarter of all eligible staff ), and 95% of staff who have accessed the service said they found the health check beneficial. Of those seen, 500 members of staff have been advised to see their GP to discuss health issues identified which in turn should help those staff improve their general health and reduce the risk of future ill health.



The way funding to maintain and improve workplaces for NHS staff has fallen is a real concern. Providing facilities for the workforce that are quiet, non-clinical and designed to support the physical, emotional and mental health of staff is a clear demonstration that they are valued and supported to carry out their roles to the best of their ability.

The physical presence of RBFT's Oasis staff health and wellbeing centre sends a clear and visible message to staff that the trust executive team and leaders are invested in the health and wellbeing of their staff. Offering free health checks onsite has also demonstrated the trust’s commitment to supporting staff's physical health and preventing long-term sickness. However, the undeniable positive impacts of the wellbeing centre are difficult for other trusts to replicate in their entirety without the necessary capital funding, which for a long time has been the key limiting factor in trust’s ability to improve rest spaces and facilities for staff.

The benefits of the centre have been undeniable, not only on morale indicators and an improved sense of staff feeling valued by the trust, but also on the physical and mental health of staff – the staff feedback video highlights the positive impact the Oasis has had on staff morale and wellbeing. The Oasis has become a hub for all health and wellbeing activity and its success acts as a source of pride for trust staff.