Exclusive: Mental health nurse becomes first nurse clinical champion

A nurse is to teach colleagues about the benefits of physical activity as part of a scheme planned to get NHS staff healthy.

A mental health nurse has been appointed as the first nurse clinical champion by Public Health England (PHE).

Nurse clinical champion Kuda Dimbi works as a mental health
clinical lead for the London Ambulance Service. 

The clinical champion programme was set up by PHE, in partnership with Sport England, to help educate clinicians about physical activity and its benefits earlier this year.

The UK has low levels of physical activity, with 1 in 4 people defined as 'inactive', although even brief advice from healthcare professionals has been shown to improve clinical outcomes, according to PHE.

A further 28 nurse clinical champions will be appointed by PHE through a grant awarded a grant by the Burdett Trust.

Practical tips

The training of the clinical champions focuses on practical tips to easily integrate activity into everyday practice.

PHE national lead for adult health and wellbeing Justin Varney said: 'We’re delighted to welcome a member of the nursing profession on board as one of our clinical champions.

'Nurses are uniquely placed to support people to get active every day, to improve their health and wellbeing, including prevention and management of over 20 chronic conditions.'

Behavioural changes

Kuda Dimbi works as a mental health clinical lead for the London Ambulance Service, and will be working with partner organisations including NHS trusts, NHS England, clinical commissioning groups, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and academic and training institutions.

She said: ‘I will be improving public health through driving behavioural changes towards healthier lifestyles, helping individuals to take more responsibility for their health and initiating a culture shift with respect to physical activity within the nursing profession.

‘As the lead nurse clinical champion, I will be using the existing training to develop materials and create a package that reflects the role and opportunities of nurses.

Professional leadership 

‘The existing package was designed with doctors in mind and while there are commonalities, nurses have a slightly different role, and opportunities to work with patients that we can utilise.’

Ms Dimbi will also be providing professional leadership, encouraging nurses to take more responsibility for their health and physical activity.

‘The link between physical activity and reduction in mortality and morbidity is very clear to me, and I am excited to be able to teach, talk about, and train fellow professionals about exercise and health.’

An adventure

Ms Dimbi, who is a Darzi fellow in clinical leadership, added: ‘This for me is a thrilling adventure which feeds into my passion and my work around improving the physical health of people with mental health problems, as physical activity is one of the ways we can support this.’