2008: a bad year for occupational health

As the year draws to a close, we tend to look back and reminisce with our rose-tinted spectacles on. Not this year though – with the festive season fast approaching, it feels like the party’s already over and the champagne’s flat.

Occupational health has been a real rollercoaster ride with Dame Carol Black’s report promising us everything and giving us nothing. It didn’t help that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), in its wisdom, thought that we OH nurses were so important we didn’t need a professional nursing adviser any more, and what a flurry of activity that created. But as usual in OH it was all hot air, and now the icicles are forming on the nose of a profession that could easily turn into the Ebenezer Scrooge of Nursing – mean, resentful and unforgiving.

In the midst of all of this, the whiter than white Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was caught with it’s trousers down and found not to be as squeaky clean as it would like us all to believe when a report found problems with its governance – so much for the great bastion of public protection.

Meanwhile, GP salaries have gone up by 58% since 2003 although productivity has declined by 2.5% with more work being given to nurses and trainee doctors. Pity they don’t invest a bit more time in caring for the workers of this country, but then they’d have to cut back on counting the pennies. GPs have never shown interest in the Health Work Wellbeing strategy and never will unless there’s a nice pot of gold in it for them.

To top it all, the world is in recession and, as I predicted earlier in the year, there could be power cuts and a return to the three-day week, so the government will have more to worry about than OH. It was never interested before Dame Carol Black and now, with the current financial situation, it has a good excuse to turn its back again.

It’s alright for ‘The Dame’ – she can vanish in a puff of smoke and return to the ‘Land of Swollen Joints’. The rest of us have to put on a brave face the show must go on.

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