Work and pensions secretary John Hutton sets up review of the health of the nation’s workers

The government has commissioned a review of the health of Britain’s working age population.

Work and pensions secretary John Hutton said he would like this to become an “annual report” to help refine the government’s approach to improving the health of the workforce.

The review aims to increase understanding of the beneficial link between work and health, and help identify where the greatest improvements can be made to the health of those who are in or want to return to work.

It will be led by Dame Carol Black, the national director for health and work, and was commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in conjunction with the Department for Health.

Hutton also announced a new partnership between the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the DWP.

“I’d like to ask IOSH to work with Bill Gunnyeon, my department’s chief medical adviser, to consider how to maximise the contribution that health and safety practitioners can make. Ensuring that government provides them with the right support and encouraging a real cross-cutting partnership between all those with an interest in public and occupational health (OH).”

Hutton said issues around work and health often drew very negative media coverage and he wanted to find a way to change this “negative perception”.   

IOSH president Lisa Fowlie said: “The health of the working age population has been a neglected topic for a considerable amount of time. Unfortunately, there are currently only a few thousand specialist OH doctors and nurses in the UK, which we believe is woefully inadequate to deal with the potential numbers who may return to work or join the workforce.”

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