The Growing Occupational Health programme was launched within NHS England and Improvement last year and offers OH professionals a chance to develop their leadership skills and help shape a culture of wellbeing within the health service. The team behind the initiative explain what they hope it will achieve.
Last year, NHS England and Improvement launched its Growing Occupational Health (GOH) programme, recognising the importance of occupational health services as central to supporting the NHS, its workforce and therefore the delivery of safe patient care.
The experience of supporting NHS staff through a pandemic and into the endemic phase has required the expertise and input of the OH workforce and continues to be sought by NHS leaders at an organisational, regional and national level.
The GOH programme will unfold over several years, and is a national, long-term initiative, designed to grow all NHS-delivered OH services and the workforce within OH and wellbeing teams. A central ambition is to enable the OH and wellbeing community in the NHS to reach their potential as strategic, integrated, and proactive organisational partners, to better support the health and wellbeing of all NHS people.
“I am passionate about championing the impact an ambitious OH service can have in the NHS,” says Dr Shriti Pattani, consultant in occupational medicine and specialist OH advisor to NHS England and Improvement. “The NHS has placed staff wellbeing at the heart of its People Plan, and we in OH have a vital role in delivering that.”
Growing the NHS OH workforce
NHS England and Improvement see the Growing Occupational Health initiative as a long-term programme of support and identification of potential opportunities for future investment in OH services and OH people. This year is focused on paving the way for this ambitious initiative, co-designed with OH people, leaders, and service users. It brings together national OH partners including the NHS Health at Work Network, the Faculty and Society of Occupational Medicine, NHS Employers, trade unions, the Council for Work and Health, and the Department of Health and Social Care.
NHS occupational health
A core element of the programme is designed to support the growth of the OH workforce.
“NHS OH professionals have provided invaluable leadership in the last two years,” observes Dr Pattani, “and NHS England and Improvement want to make sure that there is a leadership development pathway available across the OH community, to enable NHS OH services to capitalise on the potential within this community.”
NHS England and Improvement is committed to investing in developing the leadership and service development skills of OH leaders and practitioners at all levels to empower them to rise to the challenge and support the delivery of the exciting ambitions within the GOH programme.
We need skilled and ambitious OH system leaders to lead the design of a culture of wellbeing, that focuses on prevention and culture change to support the wellbeing needs of our NHS people.” – Dr Shriti Pattani
Designing a wellbeing culture
Dr Pattani explains: “There is a general sense that OH services need to move away from a culture of being reactive to a more proactive position. Therefore we need skilled and ambitious OH system leaders to lead the design of a culture of wellbeing, that focuses on prevention and culture change to support the wellbeing needs of our NHS people. To achieve that vision, we need to invest in our leaders and leaders of the future.”
Adam Turner, programme lead at NHS England and Improvement says: “The OH community told us they wanted to be ready to step up as leaders as the Growing Occupational Health programme gathered pace, and we knew that was something we could offer some practical help with. The NHS Leadership Academy already ran a range of leadership development programmes for new, emerging and established leaders, so investigating how we could link those with the Growing OH programme was an obvious step.”
The GOH programme offers a number of leadership development opportunities for all NHS employed OH and wellbeing staff in 2022, provided by the NHS Leadership Academy.
- Funded places on the Rosalind Franklin programme – with bespoke OH cohorts for established NHS employed OH and wellbeing leaders in England, and an opportunity to learn alongside your peers. Cohorts start in April and June.
- Funded places on the Mary Seacole programme – for emerging NHS employed OH leaders in England. Cohorts start in March.
- Free places on the Edward Jenner programme – e-learning open to all NHS staff.
More information about the courses, including information about applying for the remaining Franklin cohort, is available in the course prospectus.
“I’m really excited by this opportunity for the OH and wellbeing community,” enthuses Dr Pattani, “and I would encourage NHS OH people at all stages of their career to consider signing up. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together, by investing in our people and enabling them to realise their potential. I think the impact of what we can achieve by bringing forward leaders in all areas and roles will be immense.”