London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) has been awarded a gold rating by Cycling UK under the Cycle Friendly Employer Accreditation Scheme – making it the first hospital in the UK to achieve the standard.
Located in Bloomsbury, central London, the world-renowned hospital has been recognised for its efforts to get more of its 5,000 staff cycling to work – something that has been particularly important over the past 10 months with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the employees to have got in the saddle over the past year is Dr Finella Craig (pictured above), a consultant within the hospital’s palliative care team, who returned to cycling recently and now averages around 120 miles a month to visit her patients at their homes.
“I have been able to cycle to all my home visits and have even been joined by my registrar on a bike,” she said.
“We saw all our patients on time, spent less time travelling, didn’t have to sit in traffic, got exercise and saved the hospital money. It also means we have avoided public transport and spent a lot more time outdoors.”
Mark Hayden, paediatric cardiac intensivist at GOSH, said: “We are not caring for children if we do not protect the environment and try to minimise the detrimental impacts that climate change will have on children’s health around the world.
“The physical and mental wellbeing benefits which spring from cycling are well known, but we need to see marked improvements in the local air quality which is a significant public health risk.”
The hospital now has almost 300 secure cycle parking places, and has provided free bike maintenance checks for staff, plus towels for those who shower after riding to work. It also undertook a free trial of an e-bike service.
Currently, it is engaging with Transport for London and Camden Council to look for improved and safer routes to get there.
Nick Martin, the hospital’s head of sustainability, said: “Supporting our staff and visitors to make greener transport choices when they come to the hospital is a key part of our three-year Green Plan and wider hospital strategy.
“We’re pleased our efforts have been recognised but know there’s much more we can do to get more staff travelling actively, including cycling. Together we aim to reduce emissions and create a better environment around our hospital and beyond.”
Cycling UK’s cycling friendly employer accreditation manager, James Palser, commented: “Here we have an internationally respected healthcare centre of excellence that wants to see more people cycling those short distances to work.
“Cycling UK hopes other employers take note and follow in GOSH’s footsteps. More importantly, we hope councils will take this as a sign of support to build more cycle lanes, that they are good for business and public health in general.”
Other businesses and organisations to have achieved a gold standard as a cycle-friendly employer include Raleigh, Swansea University, National Resources Wales, Cyclescheme and Queen’s University, Belfast.
Cycling UK, which provides the Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme in this country, says that it is “the only international standard for workplace cycling and recognises how commuting by bike has many proven benefits for both employees and their employers.”
Cycling UK has produced the following video showing how to become a cycling-friendly employer.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.