Most occupational health (OH) professionals believe Dame Carol Black’s review of workplace health will eventually have a positive impact on the profession, and half feel employers are finally getting the message about the value of investing in workplace health – yet the vast majority also feel that their work is under-valued and under-paid.
A survey of 150 OH practitioners by OH specialist recruiter Occupational Health Recruitment has provided a fascinating snapshot of the profession’s key concerns.
National Director for Health and Work Dame Carol Black’s plans for a Fit for Work service and greater co-ordination with GPs are what will be likely to have the biggest effect on OH practice, they believed.
The use of OH technicians was another key talking point, with eight out of 10 admitting they currently do not use them, but the fifth that did adding that they saw them as a help rather than a threat.
The role of OH administrator was seen as the most important part of the OH team, followed by the physiotherapist, OH physician, OH technician, OH therapist and dentist.
While half felt UK companies were getting the message about investing to reduce their sickness absence, just a quarter believed all the employees in their organisation were aware of their presence.
Half said a majority were, but 12% admitted a minority or even no staff knew about them.
More than half worked for a healthcare provider on an ad hoc or part-time basis, with half of these working across several contracts.
Setting up their own OH practice was a lure for 45% of those polled, and two-thirds had or were currently providing remote case management, with nearly seven out of 10 believing the whole industry was moving in this direction.
When it came to the contentious issue of money, 56% felt agency hourly rates were not generous, while 62% felt the same way about permanent OH salaries.
Regional OH managers of large teams earned just under £50,000, the survey estimated, with senior OH advisers earning more than £37,000.
Worryingly, six out of 10 admitted to having felt compromised at some point in their role, with two-thirds put under pressure to do something they felt was wrong, though virtually all added they had refused to do so. Nearly six out of 10 had suffered physical or verbal abuse in the workplace.
With the recession focusing minds, more than half remained confident their role was still valued in their organisation, with 30% slightly concerned they could be made redundant, falling to 9% who were “very concerned”, and 5% who had already been let go.
A full report on this survey will be published in the July edition of Occupational Health.