Olympian opens new gym for staff at Medway Maritime Hospital

Olympic rower Sara Parfett was guest of honour for the official opening of a new gym which has been created exclusively for staff at Medway Maritime Hospital.

Believed to be the first staff gym opened by an NHS Trust in Kent and Medway, the Medway Fitness Hub forms part of Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s Your Wellbeing programme to help support the mental health and wellbeing of its staff.

Even before it officially opened its doors on Thursday 28 October, it proved to be a big hit with more than 450 staff members signing up to take advantage of the two years’ free membership offer.

Open 24/7, the climate-controlled, self-managed fitness facility features a rowing machine, two exercise bikes, three treadmills, a free weights area, weight machines and mats, as well as inclusive changing areas, showering facilities and lockers.

The project, which cost £290,000, was made possible thanks to funding from Medway NHS Foundation Trust, The Medway Hospital Charity and NHS Charities Together, plus additional contributions from Unison, and the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group.

Hospital staff were involved in naming the gym, with a panel helping to create a shortlist of suggestions and choose the name based on submissions by colleagues.

To mark the opening, Sara cut a ribbon across the gym’s entrance. Other guests included the Trust’s Chair Jo Palmer, Chief Executive Dr George Findlay, and Richard Scarth, Director of Impact and Membership at NHS Charities Together. Charities Together distributes funds raised by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore and other donations to the NHS nationally.

Sara, who grew up in Rochester, competed in this year’s Tokyo Olympics in the Team GB rowing squad after been selected in the women’s eight. She, said: “It’s a real privilege to have been asked to open the new gym for NHS staff at Medway Maritime Hospital.

“Being an athlete I know the importance of exercise, not only because of the impact it can have on your body physically but also the impact it can have on your mental health. Coronavirus has shown that our physical and mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever – and nowhere more so than in the NHS.

“I think the gym is a fantastic idea to support the wellbeing of the staff who work tirelessly to provide the best of care to patients and I hope they enjoy using it.”

Chief Executive Dr George Findlay said: “It’s no secret that NHS staff have faced enormous challenges since the start of the pandemic. Supporting our staff to ensure they are physically and mentally well is one of the Trust’s top priorities and the reason why the staff gym was created to help their wellbeing.

“It was inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised millions of pounds for the NHS by walking laps of his garden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful to everyone who supported the project and would like to say a huge thank you to The Medway Hospital Charity, NHS Charities Together and our other donors, builders Drakemoor, Quantity Surveyors, Hayward Consultants, gym equipment supplier Life Fitness, and Promax Systems for the Halo booking/fitness app. Without them this facility would not have been made possible.

“I know our staff are extremely grateful for the gym and will enjoy using it.”

Richard Scarth, Director of Impact and Membership, NHS Charities Together, said: “The Medway Hospital Charity used more than £154,000 of grant money from NHS Charities Together to part-fund this wonderful facility.

“Our donors have been keen to support staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and I am sure they will be proud that The Medway Fitness Hub will support their mental and physical wellbeing for many years to come.”

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