The contribution of occupational health to the public health agenda was the
theme of the address by Gill Stephens, assistant chief nursing officer at the
Department of Health.
In a wide-ranging speech Stephens looked at the impact of past policies and
examined the current agenda.
Stephens traced the beginnings of modern public health policy to a Labour
Party discussion document of 1976, Health is Everybody’s Business which named
the government departments that needed to be involved in making occupational
health a reality – a forerunner of today’s favourite government buzzword
She took a rapid survey of seminal publications which laid the foundations
for today’s public health agenda from the Black Report which made the link
between social class and ill-health to 1998’s Acheson Report before bringing us
back to the 21st century with Securing Health Together, the NHS Plan and NHS
According to Stephens, NHS Plus will be key to public health policy by
connecting the NHS with private business and the community through local
strategic partnerships. Public health can provide new ways to tackle old
issues, she said.
Other Department of Health initiatives of importance to the agenda included
the growing numbers of nurse consultants. "There are nearly 1,000 nurse
consultants now, and I hope there will be occupational health nurse consultants
soon," she said.
Occupational health nursing has to play its part by adopting a broader
public health focus, she added.