Back in January, when Gordon Brown gave his first major speech on health to kick start the political new year, one area which will have raised a wry smile among OH professionals was his statement that the NHS will provide more screening to enable earlier detection and prevention of illness. Familiar territory for us in OH, so positive news me thinks.
Among Brown's several promises was a provision of screening for vulnerability to heart and circulation issues, and a statement that his cronie health secretary Alan Johnson will bring forward proposals to enhance the role of employers in helping their staff lead healthy lives. Now, steady on Gordon this looks like you may have finally recognised the workplace setting as a place for managing health.
Further evidence of the government's desire to encourage UK plc to take control of employees' lives is the anticipated launch by the National Institute for Clinical Excellent (Nice) of workplace health promotion objectives - due to be published in May - with the aim of encouraging employees to be physically active.
At last it's great to see some joined-up thinking. If the Nice objectives are to see the light of day and be effective in reducing the number of working days lost through absence from 164 million in 2006, then employers, HR professionals, trade unions, OH professionals and employees will need to work in partnership to improve the nation's health and wellbeing.
The issue of men's health should be one which concerns us all. The Department for Work and Pensions has recognised that work is good for you, so maintaining one's health while getting paid for it seems to make good business sense to me. Good for the employer, good for the employee, and good for the economy.
Middle-aged men will be at the heart of the new health screening programme announced by Gordon Brown in January, targeting those who are vulnerable to conditions such as coronary heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Those who are physically active are less likely to suffer from any of these major health problems. Specifically, there will be greater need to focus on obesity, as current trends show nearly 60% of the UK population will be obese by 2050, so there is a need to encourage staff to take more care of thems