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If you have arrived on this page you probably know quite a bit about the Hug a Hospital project already. If not you can read about the rationale HERE.

You should only take part in this project if you are confident that you have the necessary skills and experience in your hospital to organise it safely and successfully.

These notes are offered to help you decide if you wish to become involved and suggest things which you may want to consider but should not be regarded as an authoritative template for the event. Please be aware that I am not an expert in event organisation. You need to make up your own minds about exactly how to proceed.

While I developed the principles for Hug a Hospital it is for individual Trusts to decide if they want to take part and exactly how the event should be arranged. I cannot be held responsible for any adverse consequences arising from any of these events.


The main point of the project is that hospitals will be encircled by staff, patients, relatives and members of the local community as a demonstration of affection and thanks for the NHS. These “hugs” will be coordinated  across the country to occur at 14.00 on the 5th July 2015. The date is important as it marks the anniversary of the founding of the NHS.

The Hug will involve fairly large numbers of people so it needs to be organised carefully in advance.

Points to consider:

  • Plan a suitable circuit well in advance and measure the distance. Gmaps pedometer is quite good for this.
  • The circuit should allow people to safely link hands without obstruction or danger. Avoid stairs if possible.
  • Identify areas that may need emergency access in advance and make sure you have a plan for them.
  • It is best to identify the majority of the people that will form the circle in advance of the day so that they can be briefed about what to do. There are many ways to do this but one method would be to allocate parts of the ring to different departments or organisations and let them populate their bits.
  • You will need at least 1 person for each meter of circuit. It is probably wise to have a few people in reserve in case of non-attenders on the day.
  • Plan how you will form and then dismantle the ring. Below is one possible plan but the detail is up to you.
    • The ring is divided into 50 meter sections and each allocated a marshal.
    • Groups of 50 participants (plus a few spares) are allocated to each marshal in advance of the day.
    • All participants and marshals meet in a designated are at 1.30
    • At 1.45 marshals lead their groups to their section of the ring.
    • At 1 55 the ring is formed.
    • At 2.00 the connection in confirmed by sending a Mexican wave around the ring. There is an option here for a celebrity to start the process.
    • At 2.05 the marshals lead their group back to the designated meeting area.

Other events

This will be a great opportunity for engaging with staff and your local community. It will probably be worth organising other events to take place alongside the “Hug”.

There is no end to the possibilities but you might consider things like:

  • A Summer Fete with stalls and attraction
  • Charity fundraising events
  • Celebrity involvement
  • Exhibitions of your work
  • Recruitment drive

Check list for organisers

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Please let me know if there are any glaring omissions.

  • Setting up the event
  • Clearing up afterwards
  • Security
  • Physical boundaries and how to secure them
  • First aid
  • Parking
  • Toilets
  • Insurance
  • Police  and council liaison
  • Press coverage
  • Emergency contingencies e.g. fire

Financial considerations

While much of this will be done by volunteers there are bound to be some costs associated with the event. While these events will undoubtedly benefit the organisation in terms of public image and staff morale, it would probably not be wise to spend core NHS funds on this exercise. It may be interpreted as frivolous in these austere financial times.

Clearly costs should be kept as low as possible. Options to cover costs include sponsorship, use of charitable funds, fundraising on the day or even asking for donations to take part. Care must be taken not to break any charity, commercial or tax rules when raising funds.

Are you still interested?

I hope so. Please let me know if you are thinking about taking part and I will add you to the list. The more names that I can put on this list the more likely that other will decide to get involved and the more successful the day.

If you are interested then spread the word. Get your communications department onto it and talk to your neighbouring trusts about it.

Finally – time is quite short to get something like this organised. If you think it is a good idea then please get going as soon as possible.

Best Wishes

Steve Smith

Big Up the NHS

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