We take a closer look at the consequences for the profession of a massive
political power base leading to the politically-defined Extra-Governmental
Organisation To Reorganise Internal Processes, by Joan Lewis &Linda Goldman
The 2003 January Open-Knowledge Education programme has allowed the
publication of hitherto unseen archive documents, leading to intense lobbying
by the political chapter of the recently-formed collective of Occupational
Health Nursing Organisations.
The Prime Minister has therefore decided to appoint a Secretary of State for
Occupational Health, taking up full powers from the beginning of April 2004.
The Department of Occupational Health will be situated in a purpose-built
block within the existing structure of the Millennium Dome, using the old
‘zones’ to deal with each area of specific occupational health interest.
The department may be contacted through its call centre, on freephone 666
2426. When contact is made, a series of numbers from one to seven will enable
callers to make contact with the section of their choice.
1 – Nativity section
It will be remembered by medical historians that, in the early days, OH was
seen as an occult practice. The first attempt to provide relevant professional
information was made by the now defunct Daily Occupational Health Mail, when
Nobel Prize winners anonymously wrote an early article – suppressed until
midnight on 31 March 2003.
Nevertheless, it is known that since the 1960s, the government has been
carrying out a longitudinal survey on genetic material of virtually all OH
practitioners – curiously enough, special intra-executive low-level (young)
administrative support staff in particular. This highly- controversial and
top-secret project has caused outrage among the few people who knew of its
existence outside the Governmental Advisory (Welfare) Department, which had
overall responsibility for its implementation.
Although past attempts at investigation into the remit and powers of the
department were blocked at the highest level, it is now revealed that, in the
darkest hours of the profession, genetic material from many members has been
obtained without consent1, stored in breach of the most cherished principles of
the Data Protection Act and experimented on in breach of the Human Rights Act.
The outcome of this unorthodox research is that there is a proven
occupational health genotype which, if present at birth, will result in a
person joining any available branch of the profession, no matter how bad the
pay or administrative resources of the organisation to which the individual is
attracted. The department will seek to identify at-risk gene carriers from the
newly identified OH blood group so that future professional needs can be
2 – Early training
The result of locating the OH gene is that attention can be given to
channelling funding towards early professional development. A GCSE in OH will
be devised for inclusion in the curriculum. Those who elect to take the subject
will be deemed to be OH positive and eligible to undertake all further
3 to 5 – The professional years
It has been anecdotally observed that entrants to the profession start with
a passionate fervour defined as the ‘lover’ stage2. In the wake of an endemic
lack of funding, the next stage of warrior or ‘soldier’3 is generally observed,
aggravated, if not caused, by the different languages spoken by human
(sometimes) resource department personnel.
Such personal stress would lead to psychological illness and high absence levels
in the profession, save that members have an innate predisposition to recovery,
as evinced by their continued attempts to secure changes in order to avert
dangers in working practices shown up by detailed risk assessments.
It is an interesting confirmation of the power of the genotype that the
group behaviour of the profession is such that, at any given moment in time, 60
per cent of those in current employment are to be seen flinging themselves
against implacable walls of opposition to the reasonable adjustments being
sought to ensure a safe system of work.
Although many of those attempting to secure beneficial change have a marked
degree of success, the latter stages of their professional years are that in
which justice for the profession is sought. This could now culminate with
ministerial rank, when the new department becomes fully functional.
It is fair to surmise that the level of power held by the new Secretary of
State will be such that the ultimate office of Prime Minister should be within professional
reach. When that occurs, legislation can be put in place to ensure draconian
punishments for those who put pressure on the OH team – either to breach
confidentiality or to accept anything but the highest possible standards to
enable risk reduction.
6 to 7 – Setting of the OH sun
The department will have special interest advisers to assist those who enter
the twilight years of their career. To accommodate an expansion in the number
of senior citizen practitioners in accordance with the age discrimination
protocols, retirement age is expected to be scrapped.
This may upset some practitioners who had been looking forward to taking up
their knitting needles in place of those that cause risk of blood-borne
infections. However, these are desperate times. It is clearly necessary to keep
members of the profession as long as possible, although consideration is being
given to continuing professional development being deemed sufficient for those
of the age of 80 and above.
It has been pointed out that the longevity of the profession is such that
there may be those with tooth and/or memory deficit, not to mention others
whose eyesight and/or other moving parts have deteriorated while waiting for
These are not cases where it is necessary to argue that experience is the
over-riding factor, as the genotype presence ensures there is a collective
experience, supported by the efforts of the Occupational Health Nursing
A cheering thought
OH power is now a very real prospect on this day and every other that
follows. It is no bad thing that there is an occupational health destiny in a
very special group of people. They can go forward confidently (under the
umbrella of the new department), and ask themselves not what they can do for
OH, but what can OH do for them.
Linda Goldman is a barrister at 7 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn. She is head
of training and education for ACT Associates & Virtual Personnel. Joan
Lewis is the senior consultant and director of Advisory, Consulting &
Training Associates and Virtual Personnel, employment law and advisory service
consultancies and licensed by the General Council of the Bar in employment
matters under BarDirect.
1. E.g. from body contact with early uniforms: note that the profession is
no longer identifiable by clothing, although badges could present a risk in the
2. Shakespeare, W, FFOM (England), Occupational Health As You Like It, The
EIR Journal of Occupational Health, 1599
3. Shakespeare, W, FFOM (England), Occupational Health As You Like It, The
EIR Journal of Occupational Health, 1599
R v Coalminers (Loading)
Organisational Teams (1803), Historical Archives
A young OH practitioner suffered psychological injury when
asked to take the team canary down the pit in contravention of current health
and safety legislation. It should be noted that females were not normally
allowed to work in coalmines, as the Sex Discrimination Act regarded mining as
an excluded sector for women. But in this case, the female was allowed into the
mine as she was not mining but, in strict legal terminology, was bird watching.
She was refused damages because the risk to her health was not reasonably
foreseeable – she should have been in school at the material time and as she
was, in the language of the day, ‘only a girl’.
Parliamentary Records, 010403
– Hon Member for [deleted]: Mr Speaker, can the Prime Minister
confirm that the country is inhabited by numerous people who are impelled to
practise in that branch of medicine that is known as occupational health.
– Speaker: That is a matter of national security (Uproar).
– Hon Member for [deleted]: Mr Speaker, I demand to have an
– Hon Member deleted.
Readers will notice that the question has not been repeated and
will draw their own conclusions about the political force behind the
implementation of the new department.
Regulations under byelaws bringing
internal supplementation home (of OH interest). Proposed for 2004
A taskforce has been appointed to investigate the future needs
of a profession, which will now have an unlimited budget within general
Unlimited powers are expected to alter health and safety
legislation without further or any consultation, subject to the availability of
funds and Prime Ministerial time, since he has ultimate authority for passing
the legislation through. As the new Secretary of State will be a member of the
profession fulfilling a genetic destiny, he or she will probably go to the
supreme authority of the Queen, Europe or higher if thwarted.
Applying for membership of the OH Party, which is currently
being formed, can best advance ministerial power. Initial enquiries may be made
by asking any other member of the profession what they think about the use of
absolute power and any risk assessment that should be carried out on the
potential for misuse. A working nation’s health is the ultimate goal.