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Chamber Patrons


Mercure hotel offers NHS staff free accommodation


An NHS Trust has partnered with a Black Country hotel to offer free accommodation to staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Management at The Mercure Birmingham West Hotel, based in West Bromwich, have made rooms available specifically for staff working at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWBH) at an agreed discounted rate. The hotel is just minutes away


from both Sandwell Hospital and City Hospital, where patients are being treated for the virus. Raffaela Goodby, director of


people and organisation development at SWBH, said: “We want to ensure that our staff are well looked after and have good facilities at the hotel whilst they are sacrificing being with their own families to safely look after our patients. “We are very grateful to Mercure


and Accor and the onsite team for looking after our work family during this difficult time.


Looking after staff: Raffaela Goodby and Garin Dart


“Food will be available to our


staff, as well as a laundry service, free parking and Wi-Fi so they are able to stay in touch with their loved ones.” Garin Dart, hotel manager, said: “I want to welcome staff from the


trust to our hotel during this difficult time and do whatever we can to help the NHS. “We are very proud to offer our


services to those working at the hospitals, as they are helping us in the fight against this virus.”


Mind your back when working at home


An occupational health provider has issued tips to help home workers combat back pain – which is said to cost the UK economy £10.7bn every year. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,


the number of people working from home has increased drastically. BHSF says there are a number of ways in which firms


should encourage employees to stay healthy – with monitoring posture being among the most important. Fiona McGill, occupational health manager, said: “Spending a prolonged period of time working on a laptop or a tablet with poor posture can be incredibly harmful to employees’ musculoskeletal health. “Our research from 2018 shows that 58 per cent of


employees received no guidance from their employer on how to set up a workstation that supports healthy


posture. Over two-thirds of workers also reported new pain since working from home. “By ensuring that home workers are provided with


the correct equipment and shown how to set up their workstation correctly, employers could prevent musculoskeletal conditions among their workforce.” According to BHSF’s research, less than half of


home workers say they sometimes include exercise as part of their working day. Fiona added: “In an office, employees are far more


likely to move away from their desks – going to meetings, speaking to colleagues or heading out for lunch.


“Employees working from home can spend hours in


the same position, as they don’t have these natural interruptions to their day.”


IT firm supports medical profession


IT services firm SCC has sprung into action to provide support to the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak. The health services required immediate upgrades to its


video conferencing facilities and SCC rose to the challenge to help one Midlands-based NHS Trust. Led by project manager Jamie Liston, the SCC team


responded to the call the moment it was received and managed to carry out the upgrades within four hours. “Having a project manager like Jamie in control and able


to make decisions at time like this shows the strength of a business and the people they have in their team,” was the feedback they received. Additionally, SCC helped the NHS accelerate an ‘always on’


VPN project that had been running internally for 12 weeks. Faced with the difficult challenge of enabling remote


working and collaboration for staff, SCC got the project up- and-running within four days.


Alex De Ruyter: Attitudes are changing


Change in attitude to state benefits


Attitudes towards state benefits are changing, according to a labour market expert. Professor Alex de Ruyter from Birmingham City University suggests our attitudes will be changing following reports that up to one million people have applied for Universal Credit as a result of the financial impact of coronavirus. As part of its packages of


measures to help people affected by Covid-19, the government increased its standard allowance for universal credit for one year. Individuals who are unable to


receive sick pay can apply for universal credit. Professor de Ruyter said: “The last


10 years have been characterised by those in receipt of state benefits being viewed as lazy or undeserving.


‘Collective attitudes towards state benefits may start to change’


“Now that people are ‘signing


on’ in substantial numbers – many of whom will not have previously interacted with the benefits system and probably consider themselves as ‘middle class professionals’, collective attitudes towards state benefits – whether around unemployment, low-income, housing or health – may start to change, societally, politically and through media. “Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s income


guarantees to employees and the self-employed are estimated to cost tens of billions, so given that up to a million new applications for Universal Credit have been made, the UK Government is looking at a possible budget deficit increase by at least £175 billion over the next financial year. “Politically speaking, it is almost


impossible for Johnson’s cabinet to avoid paying out in an effort to protect the UK economy. “In effect this will have to mean


further political acknowledgement of the important role that state benefits like Universal Credit play.”


May 2020 CHAMBERLINK 31


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