Specialist OH roles: clinical standards manager

In the final part of our series on members of the multidisciplinary team, Carol Hargreaves looks at the role of the clinical standards manager.

What qualifications does a practitioner need and who accredits them?

The clinical standards manager should be a qualified nurse and be on the professional register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). In addition, the post holder must hold a postgraduate level qualification in OH. The post holder should have leadership skills and be experienced in managing change to promote evidence-based practice.

Are there standards for practitioners?

The standards for practitioners are developed by the clinical standards manager in conjunction with relevant expertise from peers and published evidence-based guidelines from organisations such as the Department of Health, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

What is the evidence base for practice?

In the example of Atos Healthcare (where the author is clinical manager), all OH practitioners who join are required to work to agreed clinical standards, as approved via clinical governance, for activities delivered. Clinical activity is regularly and rigorously audited.

Is there a regulatory body?

Occupational health service providers are likely to have an internal clinical governance board or committee, and externally, the regulatory body is the NMC. Governance processes can be externally quality assured, and providers have the opportunity to participate in the Faculty of Occupational Medicine accreditation scheme when that comes into effect later this year.

What are the main areas of responsibility?

The role of the clinical standards manager is to:

  • Provide quality assurance regarding the product to be delivered, for example, OH assessments.
  • Assure the process for delivery.
  • Ensure that the people delivering the product have appropriate, evidence-based or consensus-based clinical guidance to allow safe practice and minimise the risk of error.

The development of clinical standards provides the basis for audit. Atos Healthcare, for example, has its own internal audit standards, publishes audit results, for specific areas of practice, to customers and is audited by customers.

What is the clinical standards manager’s typical role within a multidisciplinary team?

The clinical standards manager works across multidisciplinary teams in both service delivery and service operations. Within the service delivery teams, the clinical standards manager works with the director of nursing, the lead nurse for immunisations and wellbeing, the training and quality manager and those responsible for managing regional teams, providing clinical support and guidance for clinical service delivery. The clinical standards manager works with operational managers who are responsible for customer service and with managers who require clinical support for their customers. The clinical standards manager can communicate directly with customers who require clarification or support relating to clinical standards.

The role may involve working with managers responsible for developing new clinical products for customers, and managers responsible for transforming customer policies and products into the provider’s standards.

In addition, there will be contact with the complaints department to address common areas of complaint and to implement procedures to improve practice. The clinical standards manager will work with the chief medical officer and the lead physician for clinical governance, executing the actions arising from the provider’s governance board, managing the risk register and communicating governance issues to all clinicians in the organisation.

What skills and knowledge does the clinical standards manager add to the multidisciplinary team?

The skills and knowledge required are broad. The clinical standards manager can request the expertise of clinicians with specialist skills and experience within their organisation when appropriate. As well as having a sound knowledge of OH skills and legislation in order to provide clinical support, the role of the clinical standards manager requires an understanding of customer requirements and the business needs of the organisation.

Carol Hargreaves RN, Dip OH, MMedSci (Occ Health) PGdip Health Services Management, NEBOSH cert is clinical standards manager at Atos Healthcare.

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