With employees spread across different bases in various corners of the world, the occupational health team at British Airways has a real challenge on its hands. By Kate Rouy
British Airways may no longer promote itself as the world's favourite airline but it can still justifiably describe itself as the world's largest.
Last year it flew 41 million people on 538,000 flights, covering 233 destinations in 96 countries. The health of its employees is vital for its smooth running and profitability, and that is in the hands of the 122-strong British Airways Health Service (BAHS) team, based at the company's Waterside centre at Harmondsworth, near Heathrow Airport.
Director of health services Dr Sandra Mooney describes BAHS as "a core occupational health service, but with additional features within its hub".
These additional features include three travel clinics open to the general public at Regent Street, Cheapside and Victoria in London, and a non-profit making general dental practice for BA staff.
Indeed, OH provision at British Airways is as old as the company itself, in place for the company's forerunners BOAC and British Imperial Airlines.
The BAHS is proud of this history and its involvement in the evolution of the airline, as well as its pioneering work in aviation medicine. For example, working with the health aspects of supersonic travel prior to the first flight of Concorde.
Any traditional aspects of the service, however, lie very firmly in the past.
"We have moved a long way from that," says Mooney, although the criteria remain the same. "The occupational health service is essentially there to provide the appropriate service for everyone who works at British Airways," she adds.
That numbers 65,000 employees, approximately 50,000 of whom work in the UK.
The service has undergone major restructuring over the past three years, along with the rest of the company, described by Mooney as "a huge sea change for us, but one that really made sure we focused on the business and the needs of the business".
During this time, the occupational health adviser role was born, designed to take OH nurses out of a purely clinical role and into something more proactive.
"We do have a very modest treatment service, but we do not encourage it," s