Regional co-ordinator appointments a ‘missed opportunity’

The government has responded to Occupational Health columnist and occupational medicine consultant Richard Preece’s complaint that OH practitioners were kept in the dark about the recruitment of a high-profile network of health, work and wellbeing co-ordinators.

The regional co-ordinators were all recruited during the summer and in September, with very little in the way of external publicity.

Some of the posts were only advertised internally, a decision branded by Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Dr Preece as a “missed opportunity” to raise the profile of the profession and get OH experts into at least some of these roles.

Preece wrote to national director for health and work Dame Carol Black on the issue, and in late September received a reply from Department for Work and Pensions chief medical adviser Dr Bill Gunnyeon.

He argued that a proven track record in “partnership working” was more important than a healthcare or professional background.

“Indeed the remit and remuneration of these roles is unlikely to be attractive to occu­pational health specialists with whom, however, we would expect the co-ordinators to liaise closely,” he explained.

A decision was also taken to recruit internally initially “to expedite recruitment” said Gunnyeon, with the recruitment process due to be completed this month.

Although Preece welcomed the fact that his letter had elicited a response, he said: “I still think this is a missed opportunity.

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