Occupational health physician training: a call for central funding

occupational health physician training
Photo: Andy Drysdale/REX

The British Medical Association’s (BMA) occupational medicine committee has warned that the specialty is facing a crisis caused by an “alarming” fall in the number of qualified occupational physicians coming into the profession.

In a motion to the BMA’s annual representative meeting in June, it called for specialist OH physician training posts to be centrally funded and for salary protection to be “clarified and better publicised to attract those doctors who may wish to change career and commence training in occupational medicine”.

Last October, the General Medical Council highlighted the fact that the number of occupational physicians had fallen by almost 5% in three years and that occupational medicine had more doctors aged over 50 years old than any other specialty.

Separately, the committee has expressed concern about the fact that NHS OH units will be providing services for the new Fit for Work service, despite NHS England having withdrawn funding for OH services for GPs and their staff.

But, after a meeting with the NHS Health at Work Network, the committee has said that it had received an assurance that NHS services would only sell spare capacity to Fit for Work “and that income raised would be reinvested to improve services to NHS hospital staff”. Finally, Dr Paul Nicholson, committee chair, was awarded a fellowship of the BMA in June.

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