The government’s plan for a pan-industry Council for Occupational Health could be a stepping stone to the creation of a full-blown College for Health, Work and Wellbeing.
In the wake of the government’s ground-breaking response last month to national director for health and work Dame Carol Black’s review of workplace health, Cynthia Atwell, chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Society of Occupational Health Nursing, told Occupational Health that the idea was being actively worked on, behind the scenes.
In its response to Black’s report, published at the end of November, the government proposed the setting up of a multi-disciplinary council to promote better joint working within the profession.
But Atwell, who also last month formally received the OBE awarded to her in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in the summer, said the next step on from this could be a College for Health, Work and Wellbeing.
“Dame Carol has been talking about that and there has been acknowledgement that there needs to be something like that,” she said.
The council should be a body that was listened to within government circles, which informed ministers about what needed to be done and how, she added.
“It needs to be more than just a talking shop – we have got enough of those,” she said.
The Department for Work and Pensions also revealed to Occupational Health that it has allocated £13m to fund the planned pilotprojects that will look at different models of Black’s ‘Fit for Work’ work-related national health service, with £45m set aside over three years.
While exact details have still to be announced, there will be 10 pilot schemes that should run from until at least 2011.
The possibility is that they could be located within or near to GP practices, primary care trusts, on high streets (for instance in polyclinics or supermarkets), or even directly by large employers.