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How can government, employers and others act together for better working-age health and a thriving workforce? Commission for Healthier Working Lives launch event

Tuesday 16 January 2024, 16.00–17.30

About 1 mins to read
Download the slides and watch the video below

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This event was an opportunity to join the new Commission for Healthier Working Lives for a panel session and Q&A, chaired by the Health Foundation's CEO Jennifer Dixon, followed by a drinks and networking reception.

For too long, our working-age health challenge has been overlooked. Latest analysis from the Health Foundation shows that:

  • 1.4 million more working-age people report work-limiting conditions than 10 years ago
  • 3.7 million workers now have a health condition that is work-limiting
  • a health pay gap of around £2.50 per hour exists between those with and without a work-limiting condition.

Our findings highlight the need for a comprehensive strategy to improve working-age health for those in work and out of work.

The new independent Commission for Healthier Working Lives aims to build a consensus on the action needed to address the decline in working-age health. It will make recommendations for action to improve working-age health, and to help more people with health conditions get the support they need to access, remain or thrive in the workforce.

The Commission chair, and other commissioners and experts at this event:

  • discussed the economic and wider policy implications of our working age-health challenge, and the recent Autumn Statement
  • heard how the Commission will partner with expert organisations to develop evidence, engage with government and employers to build a shared understanding of the problem and action needed
  • networked with others committed to better working-age and find out how you can get involved.


Dr Clare Fernandes is the BBC's Chief Medical Officer, and an Accredited Specialist in Occupational Medicine. She also is a published author.

Clare joined the BBC in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic her role revolved around providing medical input into policies and practices around BBC buildings pandemic response, providing return to work advice for colleagues, general health promotion and COVID-19 health advice, and took her (virtually) to teams in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nairobi and South Africa. 

She is the Head of the Health Team, currently working on the BBC’s mental health strategy and wellbeing strategy. She is currently implementing mental health and wellbeing training and a bespoke BBC peer support network.

Headshot of Clare Fernandes

Gavin is Chair of the Resolution Foundation and Chief Executive of the Resolution Trust. Previously he was Chief Executive of Resolution Foundation and before this worked in No 10 Downing Street as Deputy Chief of Staff and at HMT as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors. Gavin is also Chair of the Living Wage Commission and board member of the Orwell Foundation and Political Quarterly.

Headshot of Gary Kelly

Beth is an award-winning social entrepreneur and the founder of Patchwork Hub, a disabled-led social enterprise and tech platform providing an accessible jobs board, bespoke recruitment services and training/consultancy. Named one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK by the Shaw Trust, Beth is a passionate advocate for disability inclusion and neurodiversity. As a disabled entrepreneur she strives to make the world of work more accessible for people excluded by conventional employment practices.

Headshot of Beth Kume-Holland

Sacha is CEO of Fair4All Finance, which has been founded to increase the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances through access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services. Sacha is a member of the Levelling Up Advisory Council in which she provides advice to the government on policy development to deliver the levelling up agenda; in this she also leads the Social Infrastructure working group of the Council. She is a non-executive director of Leapfrog Investments.

Prior to this in 2015 she became the first female CEO of a major global accountancy firm when she took up leadership of Grant Thornton in the UK. Through a focus on a purpose led strategy the firm grew to over £500m income with over 5,000 UK employees. She was also a member of the global board of Grant Thornton and led governance oversight of member firms in 140 countries employing over 50,000 around the world. 

Sacha is also a certified coach and NLP practitioner and she has worked with many leadership teams on transforming leadership and culture to deliver long term sustainable results. She has a degree in Chemistry from Oxford University.

Sacha headshot


Dr Jennifer Dixon joined the Health Foundation as Chief Executive in October 2013.

Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.

Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.

Jennifer was appointed as a non-executive board member of the UK Health Security Agency in April 2022. She has served as a Board member of the Health Care Commission 2004–09; the Audit Commission 2003–12; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–16. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–18).

In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

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