As cutbacks pile more and more pressure onto the NHS, making it harder for dedicated staff to deliver the very best care to patients, EMD UK is proud to be supporting one fantastic doctor in her initiative to promote physical health and build better staff and patient relationships through group exercise in paediatric wards.

Hospital staff and patients enjoying a Barnet Bopping session led by nurse Karelle Evans

Combined with staff shortages and record patient numbers, it’s no secret that funding cuts to hospitals have led to rapid declines in the services the NHS is able to offer child patients and their parents up and down the country. l

For paediatric healthcare workers on the front line, the situation has become increasingly dire. Morale is low, pressure is high, staff are tired, sleep-deprived, and struggling to do their jobs and care for patients to the best of their ability.

But, in 2016, one doctor – who was then working in the paediatric ward at Barnet Hospital in north London – became determined to do something about it.

Barnet Bopping

Writing in The Guardian, Dr Guddi lamented the ongoing immiseration of services to paediatric wards she’d been witnessing. “Working in a health service under pressure – one that is low in finances, low in staff and low in morale – is hard,” she said. “Under this kind of pressure, it’s not only the patients who need healing, it’s also the staff. I felt this myself. I would see my colleagues, hungry and thirsty from lack of breaks with circles under their eyes, struggle to do their jobs. Being in hospital can be scary and alienating for sick children at the best of times – how much worse when the staff looking after them are too tired and busy even to smile?”

To combat this and bring some smiles, laughter, and many great health benefits back to her ward at Barnet Hospital, Dr Guddi developed ‘Barnet Bopping’ – a hip-hop-inspired group exercise class for staff, patients, parents and visitors.

Take a look.

(Video source:

Full Support from EMD UK

When Dr Guddi’s article in The Guardian first came to EMD UK’s attention, we immediately recognised the potential of the project, and how it could be developed and made available across the NHS.

As the national governing body for group exercise, EMD UK is committed to supporting group exercise initiatives up and down the country with funding and development programmes. When we saw the great work that Dr Guddi was doing, we knew we were in the perfect position to help.

We made contact with Dr Guddi, and it wasn’t long before we had a sit down meeting to discuss precisely what EMD UK could do to support Barnet Bopping and grow the project.

Dr Guddi introduced us to Karelle Evans – one of the nurses on the paediatric ward at Barnet Hospital. Karelle, 24, already had a passion for dance and group exercise, and we realised that we could really help her make the most of her position at Barnet Hospital.

Karelle had been dancing from an early age as a hobby. By the age of 15 she was assisting instructors at her local group exercise classes, and by 17 was leading them herself. However, she also wanted to pursue nursing as a career, and so continued to run dance fitness group exercise classes while studying to be a nurse at university.

As the Barnet Bopping initiative began taking shape, the opportunity for Karelle to combine her two passions for dance and nursing presented itself – and with EMD UK supporting, everything quickly started falling into place.

Promoting Physical Health and Building Better Staff and Patient Relationships

To begin, EMD UK offered to fund Karelle’s Dance Fitness Qualification, giving her the skills and the training needed to launch Barnet Bopping to the next level.

We then worked with Karelle and Dr Guddi to create a 10-session programme for Barnet Bopping. The initiative proved to be very successful and beneficial for patients, parents and staff alike at Barnet Hospital.

The sessions were devised to have a very laidback feel to them, as this is important for helping children – already nervous and unsure about being in hospital – relax and get involved with group exercise. They include fun ice-breaker games to help all staff, patients, parents and visitors feel comfortable with one another and start laughing together, as well as simple routines (including the ‘Whip Nae Nae’) set to music, to get everyone moving.

What’s so great about the Barnet Bopping sessions is that staff are able to communicate together in one room while enjoying a light, fun workout. They pass on information about patients while they’re dancing, allowing them to keep working whilst participating.

Work pressure and busy schedules mean that it’s very difficult for healthcare professionals to fit physical exercise into a busy career at a hospital. But the Barnet Bopping sessions bring group exercise right into the work environment, enabling hospital staff to get active for a short session every day. This helps them relieve the daily stresses of work, while providing them with the opportunity to better engage with patients and parents, and of course each other.

The Barnet Bopping initiative has fostered better doctor/nurse relationships, broken down barriers between patients and staff, increased staff morale, created a more positive atmosphere in the paediatric ward, and put smiles back on the faces of all involved. No one wants to be in hospital – especially children. But Barnet Bopping helps patients get out of their beds, keeps them moving, encourages them to interact with others, and simply makes the whole experience less daunting and miserable – all of which aids recovery.

Everyone Can Groove – Working Towards a Roll-out

EMD UK, Karelle and Dr Guddi are now working together to develop the initiative and create a plan to roll-out Barnet Bopping – under the new name ‘Everyone Can Groove’ – to further hospitals in the UK.

Driven by the positive impact the programme is making, EMD UK’s Business Development Manager Lindsay Wingate is spearheading the Everyone Can Groove project, and is committed to sourcing further funding for its expansion. Karelle is the official Ambassador and will be taking a lead role in the training of other instructors – with a particular focus on nurses who are interested in dance fitness – as together we work to expand the initiative to other UK hospitals.

Dr Guddi is delivering an Everyone Can Groove presentation this March at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) conference in Glasgow, where she will be aiming to raise awareness of the project, and how we can all – patients and hospital staff included – dance our way to better health. EMD UK will be attending the RCPCH conference to support Dr Guddi and will be conducting a survey with attendees to get feedback on how this fantastic group exercise project can be developed further.

As your national governing body for group exercise, EMD UK exists to realise a healthier nation for all.

We have numerous training, endorsement and development programmes available for everyone who shares our vision. If you have an exciting and positive group exercise project you’d like help developing, get in touch with EMD UK today.