OH profession entering a time of change

 During last November’s annual RCN Society of Occupational Health Conference (see the main January issue of Occupational Health for conference report), the talk by the educational adviser for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was eagerly anticipated.

Delegates were keen to find out exactly what kind of impact the migration of OH nurses onto the third part of the NMC register – the special community public health nursing part – would have on the profession. However, although the speaker enthusiastically promoted the fact that OH nurses will be actively encouraged to take on a greater public health awareness role, he had to admit he was unsure what the practical implications would be for OH education.

So it’s reassuring to know that the Association of OH Educators (AOHNE) has met to discuss that very issue and agreed some important points. The resulting article (see page 12) informs OH practitioners about the impact on the courses that are currently available, and should be a useful guide to help you choose the appropriate course when developing your career.

Becky Elliot, chairwoman of the AOHNE, also sees the benefits of OH nurses being on the same part of the register as public health nurses, “the recognition of our primary role in the prevention of ill health has been made by placing us on part three of the NMC Register,” she says.

So, with public health taking an increasingly important role in government policy, we wondered – in an election year – what impact would a change of administration make to the profession?

What emerges is that although OH is hardly at the top of the party political agenda, all three main parties are keen to tackle sickness absence levels within the civil service (see page 14). And public health will remain a key issue – no matter who ends up at Number 10.


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