The NHS Health at Work network has warned of “a growing body of anecdotal evidence” suggesting that employers are failing to recognise the value of NHS occupational health (OH) staff – in particular specialist nurses and doctors – and that this is leading to increasing redundancies and loss of posts.
In fact, the network is so concerned about this trend it has said it intends to hold a workshop under the banner NHS Occupational Health in Crisis? next month.
The workshop will take place at network chair Dr Anne de Bono’s department at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on Wednesday 26 March.
In a letter to network members, de Bono said: “Recent events, including redundancies of OH physicians and senior nurses and the outsourcing of major contracts, are combining to present a key challenge to the future for NHS OH services.
“There is a growing belief that this challenge is prompted by a lack of understanding on the part of commissioners of the added value of NHS OH services and, on our part, by an inability to clearly articulate our added value and to demonstrate value for money.”
To that end, the network was keen to mount a strong promotional fight back during 2014 – including running a campaign to set out the business and clinical advantages associated with NHS OH provision, and to highlight the “unique added value” of senior clinical staff.
In a further development, the network has been working with NHS England to clarify the current arrangement for health declarations for applicants to the NHS Performers List.
An interim statement briefing clarifying the arrangements was published in January.