Graham Rushbrook, Chair of the RSPH Health & Wellbeing Awards programme

Graham Rushbrook, Chair of the RSPH Health & Wellbeing Awards programme, reflects on the many benefits of entering the UK's premier awards scheme for promoting health and wellbeing.

Until last year, when I was honoured to host the Health & Wellbeing Awards, I had not fully realized what a modest and self-deprecating bunch the public health workforce are.

It was amazing to see the pleasure and excitement on people’s faces when we called out their names as category winners, and even more so to see the feedback from last year’s event.

Whilst the RSPH Awards event might be the pinnacle of the process for many, I know that it takes an inordinate commitment to submit as well as a degree of bravery to open up your project to the scrutiny of others – so why bother?

A few past winners have described how, in a fast changing environment, it is easy to forget what fantastic services are being delivered, often against a backdrop of savings and retendering for contracts. So for them it has provided the opportunity to take stock and reflect.

For others, it has been about sharing the joy (often referred to as best practice), a way of breaking out of the silos and working across instead of up and down systems, and a way to reflect and evaluate.

Some have also told me how the process feels fair and professional, and that the judging and Awards programme has provided valuable links and new partnerships that they had never imagined.

I myself have had the chance to reflect on how far the Awards programme has come over the last 10 years. Gone (well nearly!) are the days when lorries would arrive, risking red route fines, to deliver mountains of evidence.

The mainly electronic submission process, which we hope will be managed entirely online by next year, has seen the number of entries double year-on-year and increase accessibility.

I am proud of how RSPH models partnership and collaboration with the Awards. Initially this was most evident with the development of the Public Health Minister’s Award.

Last year, RSPH incorporated the well established Arts and Health Award as a new category within the Health & Wellbeing Awards. This served not only to provide a bigger platform to showcase the impact of the arts on health and wellbeing, but also to enhance the breadth and appeal of the revised programme.

So what can you expect if you enter this year’s Health & Wellbeing Awards? Well, you can expect to reflect on your practice and delivery and articulate how this has benefitted the public and contributed to a reduction in health inequalities.

From our assessors, you can expect rigor, transparency and reflection as well as a tried-and-tested peer review process.

And for those of you that attend the RSPH Awards event in October, winner or not you will have the opportunity to get your glad-rags on, eat amazing food (contributing to your 10 a day!), drink (within responsible drinking limits), laugh (scientifically proven to increase wellbeing), and most of all to be part of the spectacular recognition of the energy effort and creativity that makes up the UK’s public health workforce.