Pre-employment health assessments are an important function of the
occupational health practitioner. Yet, there is a very limited awareness of the
relevant research findings throughout the profession, said Dr Stuart Whitaker,
director of nursing at BMI Health Services.
In his presentation, ‘Pre-employment Assessment – a Current Perspective’, he
took dele- gates through what is known as ‘Whitaker’s seven Es model of
occupational health’. The model comprises: evidence-based practice – Whitaker
argues: "The only thing that separates the professional from the charlatan
is the use of objective evidence that practitioners research for
themselves"; effective – "so that what we do has an impact";
efficient – bearing in mind that pre-employment health checks are estimated to
take up 40 per cent of an OHN’s time; ethical – as it is one of the areas where
people must disclose this kind of personal information; economic – OHNs operate
in an environment where resources, costs and value for money are important
considerations; enjoyable – when a nurse brings confidence and pleasure in what
they do into practice; and excitement – to give energy to the practice.
Whitaker, who completed a PhD thesis, A critical evaluation of
pre-employment health assessment in the NHS in 1997, said perhaps it is time
for OHNs to question whether pre-employment assessments are really worthwhile.