Occupational health nurses urged to support plans for single OH body

Occupational health nurses are being urged to get involved and make their views heard around the plans being led by the Society of Occupational Medicine and Faculty of Occupational Medicine to create a single organisation for occupational health.

Christina Butterworth, head of health at BG Group and president of the Association of Occupational Health Nurses Practitioners (UK), has called on members to “engage” with the project.

“I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the working group in my capacity as the deputy chair of the Council for Work and Health, and have been impressed with the thoroughness of the process to date and its recognition of OH nursing and other allied professionals working in [the profession],” she said in a letter to members.

The proposals are due to go to an extraordinary general meeting of the faculty later this month, followed by one for the society in June.

Assuming the proposals pass through this process, they will then go to a formal vote of both the society and faculty in August, with the aim being to create a new single organisation from August 2015.

Butterworth has urged members to log on to the single organisation website and join in with the discussion on social networking website LinkedIn.

The faculty and society, meanwhile, have said they intend to create a “shadow” board to provide governance and direction to the process as well as to oversee the work of the single organisation working group.

To that end the two organisations ran an application process for the board, which closed at the end of April.

While there is still much detail to be thrashed out, the society and faculty have said that their preferred model for the new single organisation is that of a collegiate model.

This would be led by a board of trustees and executive committee, and include departments, faculties, special interest groups and regions. Departments would undertake many of the functions currently undertaken by the faculty and society, such as events, continuing professional development (CPD), national representation, finance, membership administration and communications. Faculties would include a faculty of occupational medicine and, potentially, individual faculties for other professional groups such as nurses and physiotherapists.

The faculties would be responsible “for those areas that are specific to that professional group – for example, specialist qualifications, standard setting revalidation and linking to regulators and relevant professional bodies”, the faculty said.

The regional groups could be similar to the regional structure currently offered by the society, and provide a forum for CPD and multidisciplinary networking at a local level. The special interest groups would “provide OH doctors, nurses and associated health professionals with shared interests, meaningful networking opportunities, specific education and, if appropriate, the ability to contribute to position papers or act as an advocate or voice for that area of work,” it added.

These, it said, could be for a particular area, such as healthcare or transport or for a particular group such as trainees. “They could also be either ongoing or be formed to respond to a time-specific issue,” it concluded.

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