Pre-employment health screening is waste of time, says NHS report

Universal pre-employment health screening (PEHS) of all NHS staff is outdated and a waste of occupational health’s time and resources, a hard-hitting report suggested.

The NHS Plus-commissioned research by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine’s and Royal College of Physicians’ Health and Work Development Unit (formerly the Occupational Health Clinical Effectiveness Unit) recommended that new national guidance should be issued on PEHS in the NHS and new staff invited to discuss work and health with OH should they need to.

The recommendations will now go to the Government for approval but, given that the Government’s response to 2009’s Boorman Review agreed that such screening should be reduced, it is hoped this will be little more than a rubber-stamping exercise.

The Equality Act has also made it illegal (except in a few restricted circumstances) to carry out PEHS before a job offer has been made.

NHS Plus director Kit Harling stressed that, as all decisions on health at work had to be based on evidence, “this independent scientific review makes an important and timely contribution to the evidence base”, which he hoped would “stimulate the debate”.

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