Occupational health practitioners urged to join consultation on future NHS workforce

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The Society of Occupational Medicine is urging OH practitioners to get involved in a consultation on the future NHS workforce launched by Health Education England, after occupational health was all but overlooked in its outline strategy document.

The HEE consultation, Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future: a draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027, was published in September. The consultation opened in December and will run until 23 March.

The report aims to examine the nature and scale of the challenges facing the NHS and, as HEE put it, set out “proposals for the management of workforce issues at both local and national level.”

While the document is wide-ranging, looking at specialties such as nursing and midwifery, dentistry, medicine, healthcare science, pharmacy and allied health professions, there is only one glancing reference to occupational health.

In a section looking at the challenges around public health and wellbeing, the document states that: “Nurse education for infectious disease management, sexual health, substance misuse (including drugs, alcohol and tobacco), occupational health will be vital to meet current and future needs.”

Nick Pahl, chief executive of the Society of Occupational Medicine, expressed his dismay to Occupational Health & Wellbeing.

“It is disappointing that occupational health has been overlooked within this strategy and it is vital that OH professionals respond stating the significant contribution OH services can make to NHS staff health and wellness, and help avoid issues such as burnout,” he said.

Anne Harriss, CPD editor of Occupational Health & Wellbeing and course director in occupational health nursing at London South Bank University, added: “It is vital that OH professionals respond, indicating the significant contribution proactive OH services can make to health and wellness initiatives, thus highlighting the significance of this omission.”

OH practitioners who wish to have their say on the consultation should go to https://consultation.hee.nhs.uk/

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