Leading occupational health (OH) organisations have today welcomed the launch of the Government’s consultation on improving health at work alongside proposed changes to improve statutory sick pay. The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) welcome the focus this consultation brings to the importance of quality OH services, amongst measures to secure improved employee health, and productivity, particularly enabling those with long term health conditions and disabilities to remain in work if they wish to do so.
The consultation recognises the lack of access to occupational health (OH) services, which are currently provided only to around half of all employees. The consultation focuses on steps to build capacity and rapid access to modern occupational health advice.
The consultation proposes to consult on ways to increase the number of employees who access occupational health services with a suggested
- increase in the capacity of occupational health professionals, particularly doctors and nurses; there is a serious shortage of specialists in occupational medicine; in the NHS alone, numbers of consultants have declined from 80 to 60 over the past two years
- review in the ways in which the quality of OH services are measured and monitored (building on the work of the SEQOHS quality improvement process)
- consultation on the co-ordination and funding of academic research to provide answers to key questions related to workplace health.
SOM and FOM welcome the recognition that occupational health professionals are uniquely placed to enhance the productivity of the nation while keeping workers healthy and safe.
Dr Will Ponsonby, President of the Society of Occupational Medicine said: “We welcome these proposals to invest in occupational health. It makes sense to facilitate investment in occupational health for small businesses and we urge the Government to invest in occupational health professionals to allow this scale up to occur. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Government with the aim of ensuring that new OH services are appropriately designed and funded.”
Dr Anne de Bono, President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine said: “For the past few years, we have engaged in constructive dialogue with Government as they developed plans for this consultation. We support the consultation’s emphasis on investment in training in occupational medicine, which is desperately needed to provide the quality OH offer to employees that our workplaces require. Employee health and wellbeing contributes to successful business performance and we know that highly effective companies commit to a culture of health.”
 Health, work and wellbeing – evidence and research https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/health-work-and-wellbeing-evidence-and-research