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Fit for Work

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Project Added:
1 May 2015
Last updated:
15 May 2015

Fit for Work


This project aims to reduce overall sick leave rates of Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) staff by introducing a ‘Fitness Passport’ program, which targets 850 staff and encourages them to attend a gym on a regular basis. 


To reduce the incidence of sick leave and workers compensation leave taken by MNCLHD employees by 5% within 12 months.


  • Enhances overall patient safety, by building a fit workforce that can safely and competently perform all the inherent duties of their roles.
  • Engages management and staff to proactively manage age and lifestyle-related health conditions in a preventative manner.
  • Reduces overall sick leave and workers compensation leave, allowing full staffing of patient and ancillary care areas.
  • Reduce the risk of injury and illness in the workplace.
  • Improves morale and overall job satisfaction.

Project Status

Project status

Sustained: the project has been implemented, is sustained in standard business.

Project dates

  • Start: April 2014
  • Implementation: October 2014
  • Evaluation: October 2015


As part of the sick leave and workers compensation reduction strategy for MNCLHD and following a directive from the Director of Nursing Midwifery and Workforce, the project team conducted a focus group for senior managers to identify issues affecting the health and wellbeing of MNCLHD staff.

The focus group conducted an exercise around identifying barriers and suggesting solutions. Those who attended were given five votes for barriers and solutions they felt were the highest priority for them.

These issues included an ageing workforce with an average age of 57, as well as high levels of sick leave within the organisation, increasing from three to six days per person.

It was decided to focus on reducing overall sick leave rates over a two-year period through a number of streams, including:

  • culture shift
  • systems and processes
  • education
  • early intervention management of chronic  conditions, affecting ability to work
  • health prevention and promotion.


  • Introduced a ‘Fitness Passport’ program, which targeted 850 staff and encouraged them to attend a gym on a regular basis over a 12-month period.
  • Measurement of overall sick leave rates for the Fitness Passport group pre- and post-gym membership.


  • Fitness Passport 

Implementation sites

MNCLHD staff can participate in the Fitness Passport program in over 200 gyms across NSW, including:

  • Coffs Harbour Health Campus
  • Port Macquarie Base Hospital
  • Port Macquarie Community Health
  • Kempsey District Hospital
  • Bellingen District Hospital
  • Dorrigo Multi-Purpose Centre
  • Wauchope District Hospital
  • Macksville District Hospital.


  • As of 7 November 2014, 628 staff had registered to participate in the program, with over 200 of these aged 50+.
  • Families of staff were also able to join the program, with 326 partners and 556 dependents participating.
  • Sick leave for MNCLHD slightly decreased in full time equivalent staff from October 2014 to January 2015. It is hoped this trend will continue, with results assessed on a quarterly basis.
  • MNCLHD is the third district in NSW with access to the Fitness Passport program.
  • There has been a great deal of enthusiasm and positive feedback from participants, particularly around staff morale and the option for staff to participate in group fitness activities together.

Comparison of sick leave data by month 2013/14 and 2014/5


Comparison of sick leave trends 2013/14 and 2014/15

Lessons Learnt

  • Even though the Chief Executive wanted it to happen, getting engagement from staff for logistical support was difficult.
  • The risk of not succeeding with this initiative may have been worse for morale than not commencing it at all, creating a huge amount of pressure to make it successful.
  • Information Technology was always going to be a challenge and proved to be the case.
  • Word of mouth is the best marketing tool.



Colleen Ryan
District Work Health & Safety Coordinator
Mid North Coast Local Health District
Phone: 0477 368 178

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