UNISON launches #ChooseWellChampion campaign in ‘groundbreaking initiative’

Largest NHS union puts its weight behind Welsh government’s Choose Well call

UNISON Cymru Wales is today (26 October 2015) launching one of the most innovative public service initiatives from a trade union in Wales.

As the largest trade union within the NHS in Wales, UNISON represents staff across the Welsh Ambulance Service and health boards across Wales.

UNISON has always encouraged patients and their families to think twice before calling 999 for an emergency ambulance or turning up to the emergency department of a local hospital.

The increase in demand for these services is both unsustainable in the long term, puts lives at risk for those who need immediate life saving treatment and is dispiriting for those waiting many hours in emergency departments when they could have been given urgent medical advice sooner, by a different route.

There has been a longstanding campaign called Choose Well run by the Welsh government which is intended to educate and advise patients about alternative healthcare options (sometimes known as pathways) such as NHS Direct Wales, a local minor injuries unit and pharmacists etc.

In a groundbreaking initiative to support the NHS, UNISON Cymru is using its reach, reputation and relationships with the employers of our 95,000 members in Wales to actively promote Choose Well to hundreds of thousands of people across Wales.

“We have asked all of the employers that we have a relationship with to promote Choose Well to all of their staff, because choosing well fits right into the health and wellbeing agenda that all good employers promote,” said Dawn Bowden, UNISON Cymru Wales head of health.

“We have also asked them to promote Choose Well to all the people they provide services to, including students, tenants, clients, patients, service users and members of the public.

“As part of our social media campaign we are promoting all employers who want to be engaged in this life saving and groundbreaking initiative as a #ChooseWellChampion.

“UNISON is particularly pleased that the first organisation to respond to our call was the leading mental health charity, Hafal. Hafal will now actively promote Choose Well messages to over 200 staff and 3000 people with a serious mental illness across all 22 counties in Wales.

“We would appeal to all employers with an interest in their employees welfare as well as that of their clients and service users to join UNISON and a growing list of exemplar employers in Wales and become a #ChooseWellChampion.