to phase in OH service for GP practice staff under NHS plan
and practice staff are to get access to an occupational health service for the
first time, under new government plans.
initiative, unveiled by health minister John Hutton at the end of June, will
mean GPs and primary care staff will be provided with regular risk assessments
to identify workplace hazards, pre-employment health assessments and access to
OH nurses and physicians.
will also be offered immunisation, boosters, blood tests and counselling
the services are being established – they are due to be up and running by next
March – a local telephone service will be set up offering advice on
occupational health and safety.
trust and health authority staff have long had access to OH services, but GPs
and their staff have not – although some authorities make services available
through locally financed schemes.
said, "GPs and their staff work very hard – doing a great job under
pressure. That is why introducing these services is so important. By improving
health and safety in their work lives, GPs and their staff will be able to make
the best contribution to improving patient care."
Peter Verow, consultant occupational physician at Sandwell Health Care Trust,
said the development had been "long awaited" but it would take some
time for OH services to gauge what level of demand was needed.
practices vary in size and complexity with some simply wanting health and
safety advice and others a full OH service.
local OH service would first need to negotiate with the health authority or
primary care trust to agree on an appropriate level of service, he argued. But
the best route was to have a dedicated OH nurse to establish and develop the service.
it is just part of a job of another OH person in a unit then there is a danger
it becomes another service that is not pushed," he said.
Government’s NHS Plan, published last summer, pledged to invest £6m in 2001/02,
and a further £2m in 2003/04, to make OH services available to GPs and their