Occupational health nurses could have own faculty in two years


Occupational health nurses could have their own faculty of OH nursing within the next 18 months to two years, if a project being led by the Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners proves successful.

In the wake of the failure last summer of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) to form a single organisation, the association has instead launched a project to look into the feasibility of nurses developing their own faculty.

Although the idea is still at a very early stage, it could, in time, provide OH nurses with leadership around their training and development, conferences, research, audit and other areas.

The project is being led at the association by immediate past-president Christina Butterworth, who told Occupational Health: “I think the AOHNP is in a good position to develop this and we have already held a short meeting with a group of OH nurses, not all of whom are association members. We just threw around some ideas, looked at things we could do and what sorts of opportunities there might be, and the idea of forming a faculty was one of the key things put in place.”

The move is one of a number of initiatives now being pushed forward by the association in the wake of the SOM and FOM vote.

During October, the association also carried out a survey to gauge nurse reaction to that vote.

This found clear backing for the idea that nurses should at least look into the feasibility of creating a single representative body of their own, with nearly two-thirds of respondents supporting the idea.

The association, which under new president Diane Romano-Woodward has set itself a target of doubling its numbers from the current 370 members over the next two years, is looking at the feasibility of moving from being structured as an informal network to having formal charitable status, including developing a new constitution and business plan and changing its location of registration from Scotland to England.

Significantly, the association has also been tasked by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)  with piloting models for the revalidation of OH nurse practitioners.

The pilots are set to help the NMC put appropriate models for revalidation in place before it is introduced across the profession at the end of this year.

The AOHNP-led pilot is one of a number of models being tested, with the nurses and midwives taking part expected to go through a series of online tests between April and June.

“For the NMC to allow the revalidation project to go ahead is a real acknowledgement of our importance; it is a big step. The NMC may not understand OH very well but what is positive is that it is open to us providing different ways to revalidate, for example for people who are self-employed or in single practice,” said Romano-Woodward.

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