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The role originated from a recommendation in the NHS Staff and Learners Mental Wellbeing Report (2019) stating: 

“The NHS Workforce Wellbeing Guardian will seek to assure and continue to reassure the board that their organisation is a wellbeing organisation and a healthy workplace in which NHS staff and learners can work and thrive… the ways in which the NHS Workforce Wellbeing Guardian will work would be for determination by the individual organisation” (Pages 14-15)

This was subsequently endorsed and adopted in the NHS People Plan 2020-21 stating: 

“All NHS organisations should have a wellbeing guardian (for example, a non-executive director or primary care network clinical director) to look at the organisation’s activities from a health and wellbeing perspective and act as a critical friend, while being clear that the primary responsibility for our people’s health and wellbeing lies with chief executive officers or other accountable officers”. (Page 17) 

About the Wellbeing Guardian Role
  • The Wellbeing Guardian is a Board-level portfolio (NED, or equivalent). They provide oversight and assurance to the NHS Board (or equivalent) to fulfil their legal responsibility in empowering and improving the health and wellbeing of their NHS workforce. 
  • They should champion that every organisational decision made considers the wellbeing of their workforce, equally to that of finance, performance and quality. 
  • The expectation is for this new role to be introduced in every NHS organisation (for example at NHS Trusts, within a Primary Care Network, at CCG level and at national NHSEI level). 
  • The role was successfully launched by NHSEI in January 2021 with 208 organisations in attendance and a national online community development platform was launched to support adoption of role. 
  • Organisations are currently identifying their Guardians and regions are developing Wellbeing Guardian networks. The ambition is to develop regional communities of practice/networks and work with Guardians to collaboratively shape the role over time, building on the recommendations in the NHS Staff and Learners Mental Wellbeing Report (2019).
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