Changing times for occupational health

This week’s cover story is about Tracey Cooke, the OH nurse adviser who blew the whistle on a breach of confidentiality. Apart from a first-hand account of Cooke’s courageous tribunal test case, our special report looks at the legal issues, and shows how Durham County Council has tackled the issue of confidentiality and consent.

Another theme this month is how OH is going to change in the future. Even if you are sceptical about whether the government’s Health, Work and Wellbeing strategy will deliver on its aim to put workplace health top of the public health agenda, it is clear things will not stand still for people working in OH.

A range of factors, from OH nurse skills shortages to the growth of outsourced OH services, will mean that exactly who works in OH in future and what they do is likely to look different to today. Last month, a report from the Work Foundation, Healthy Work: Productive Workplaces, argued that wellbeing at work is to do with job organisation and organisational culture. In other words, to deliver results in OH you need a partnership approach.

With this in mind, a new series kicks off in this month’s issue looking at the future of OH. The first article looks at the role of OH technicians. Are they a welcome way to free up qualified OH advisers by taking on routine procedures so nurses can focus on managing the service? Or are they a kind of ‘OH Lite’, designed to save money while dumbing down the service? Tell us what you think.

OH nurse advisers have an opportunity to make sure the nursing establishment understands such challenges this month in the Nursing and Midwifery Council elections (NMC). You have until 10 February to vote for one of the three OH professionals standing for election to the council of the NMC, so do not waste this opportunity for a bigger voice.

NOEL O’REILLY

Editor OH.Editor@rbi.co.uk

 

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