A lobby group has been set up to give commercial providers of OH services a
voice in Parliament, as well as to provide information, advice and support.
The Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) has been
established by OH professionals from organisations as diverse as Wellwork,
Interact Health Management and Cheviot Artus.
Deputy chairman, Dr Mike Goldsmith, of health consultancy Medigold, told
Occupational Health that since its launch at the start of June, some 25 per
cent of the commercial OH sector had now signed up.
COHPA intends to press politicians and employers about the need for better
OH provision and raise issues such as better workforce planning for the
profession, better regulation of quality and the promotion of best practice.
"The biggest bulk of OH services is now provided by commercial OH
providers, whether they are single physicians, medium-sized companies or giant organisations,"
"But there is no body representing us, there is no-one helping HR
directors and finance directors who want OH in their company to find out where
to go," he added.
Fees range from £1,000 for smaller OH providers, up to £5,000 for larger
organisations, although there is a £500 associate member option.
With 80 per cent of industry still not using OH, where the profession was
going to find the staff to cope with the rapidly increasing demand and interest
was a major issue for the future, he suggested.
What will happen as GPs increasingly look to give up sicknote certification
was another, he added.
But Goldsmith was keen to stress that the organisation had no intention of
treading on the toes of others, such as the Faculty of Occupational Medicine
and the Society of Occupational Health Nurses.
By Nic Paton