New standards create universal benchmarks for all OH providers

Ground-breaking new standards for occupational health providers were formally unveiled in January.

The standards, for the first time, give both NHS and commercial OH providers a benchmark against which to show clients, suppliers, commissioners, employers and employees that they are operating at a high level.

The 13 standards – developed by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) but involving 47 individuals representing 35 different organisations – cover six areas:

  • business probity

  • information governance

  • facilities and equipment

  • people

  • relationships with purchasers

  • relationships with workers.

There are also 46 minimum requirements, meaning that, as an absolute minimum, a single-handed practitioner not providing facilities or equipment will have to satisfy 22.

The standards are also the precursor to a voluntary accreditation system for OH providers. This is due to be piloted later this year before a formal roll-out early in 2011.

“The standards are being introduced one year ahead of the launch of the accreditation scheme,” said Dr Paul Nicholson, project lead at the FOM and chairman of the British Medical Association’s Occupational Medicine Committee. “This is to allow occupational health services to acquaint themselves with the standards and start implementing systems to collect the evidence required for the accreditation process.

“However there should be nothing new in these standards for the good and credible OH provider, since the standards and minimum requirements reflect existing ethical and professional guidance – that is to say, what providers should already be doing.”

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