Welcome to our December 2020 Bulletin

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Dear Colleagues

First, I want to say thank you for the messages of support and encouragement that I have received  following the announcement last month that I will be taking over as Network Chair from April 2021 and so it is my privilege as ‘Chair Elect’ to write to you all this month. I am certainly excited about taking up this position at a time when NHS Occupational Health has been ‘on the map’ as we have supported and protected our staff through this global pandemic. 

In this last month, in the midst of delivering a high profile staff flu vaccination campaign, I suspect you have also been pulled into discussions around COVID vaccines, asymptomatic lateral flow testing and individual risk assessments concerning staff vulnerabilities and anxieties as this second wave of COIVD has progressed. Shriti, our Chair, has been working with NHS England to share our concerns regarding the NIVS system for reporting of flu vaccinations (see item 1 in the bulletin). 

In addition, Shriti, Anne De Bono and Ali Hashtroudi are supporting DHSC by providing occupational health input to the COVID vaccine programme, making sure the Network is being heard at the highest levels. We will cascade key information as soon as it becomes available.  

As this year draws to a close, a year which truly has been like no other, I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the Network board to wish you all a Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year.

Kind regards

Hilary Winch

Network Chair Elect


In this edition:


2. NHS Staff Support Resources

3. Health & Wellbeing Interventions: The Evidence Base

4. GMC Decision Making and Consent Guidance

5. MoHaWK

6. Draft NICE Guidance on ME/CFS

7.Virtual Stakeholder Event: Long-term Health Conditions

8. HSE Update

9. Useful Resources

The next edition will be circulated week commencing 27 December 2020.

1.    NIVS

Many of you have raised concerns related to the letter dated 14th October from NHSE/I regarding the ‘Daily submission of flu vaccination data for HCW’ on the National immunisation Vaccination System (NIVS) both on the grounds of an impossible request and also on basis of consent and confidentiality.

An email has been sent to Pauline Philip, National Director for Emergency and Elective Care at NHS England and NHS Improvement, on behalf of the Network to raise these concerns and to request that this requirement is lifted for the flu vaccine.  The HR Directors in North West London have also written a letter of support.  I attach the letter and I would request that you share this with your HR Directors and ask that they lend their support in the same way.  The bigger the voice the better!

2.    NHS Staff Support Resources

A reminder as to the range of excellent free access to psychological and practical support for NHS staff being provided by NHS England and NHS Improvement. This includes:

  • A free wellbeing support helpline 0300 131 7000 available from 7am – 11pm seven days a week, providing confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice, including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help. 
  • A 24/7 text alternative to the above helpline - simply text FRONTLINE to 85258.
  • An online portal with peer-to-peer, team and personal resilience support.
  • A confidential bereavement support line, 0300 303 4434, operated by Hospice UK and free to access for NHS staff from 8:00am – 8:00pm, seven days a week.
  • Bereavement support during COVID-19 which includes central guidance and support following the loss of a colleague, friend or family member during the pandemic

3.    Health & Wellbeing Interventions: The Evidence Base

NHS Employers commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies to undertake a rapid review of the evidence base on health and wellbeing interventions used in healthcare and their implications for wellbeing outcomes. Read the summary of the key learning from the report.

4.    GMC Decision Making and Consent Guidance

The GMC has updated its decision-making and consent guidance which is available here, replacing the previous version published in 2008.

5.    MoHaWK – Round 17 Remains Open Until End December – Round 18 Opens 1 Jan

As we start to enter in December, we would normally be launching Round 18 and asking you to start to prep your data. This indeed is still the case, but you will have just one month left to get any data in for Round 17.  Round 17 will close on 31st December and then Round 18 will open for data inputting on 1st January.

New features for Round 18, include the ability to record worker experience feedback from video consultations in addition to the face-to-face and telephone based experience sections already in the tool as many services have started to use this form of assessment during the pandemic. In addition, we are hoping to release some benchmark elements around the COVID work so watch this space for these updates. It will not require any actual data pulling so will be easy to submit an entry for these areas.   

The routine data collection for the majority of topics is the month of December and so you can pull your data accordingly once the New Year arrives. You may wish to just focus on one or two indicators per month making the data collection more manageable during these times.   

I have attached the briefing note for reference on the subject areas. Please do get in contact if you have any queries hilary.winch@nnuh.nhs.uk 

6.    Draft NICE Guidance: ME/CFS

The draft NICE guidelines on ME/CFS have been published for comment.  Any feedback should be sent directly to NICE using their comments form on the website.  The deadline for comment is 22 December 2020.

7.    Virtual Stakeholder Event: Long-Term Health Conditions and Employment Impact

Researchers from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust have conducted a study exploring the relationship between multiple long-term health conditions (LTCs) and their impact of employment (job retention, return to work, early job loss) in a sample of working age people in south London.

This project comprised two iterative work packages. Work package 1 focused on defining ‘long term conditions’ and identifying patterns in disease progression and related risk factors and work package 2 explored the impact of multiple long-term conditions on employment status.

The upcoming stakeholder event will bring together representatives from public health, clinical practice, health research, government and policy bodies and members of the community (working age people with lived experience of managing multiple long-term conditions in the context of employment). The purpose of the event is to seek valuable feedback on the study findings, help to prioritise future work, and inform the development of new health interventions targeting groups of working age people most at-risk of disease progression and early job loss as well as new health and social support programmes to help people with long term conditions to enter, remain or return to work.

The ‘virtual’ stakeholder event will be held on Tuesday 2 March 2021 from 10-12pm.

Limited spaces are available so please contact vaughan.parsons@gstt.nhs.uk asap if you would like to attend.  Expressions of interest close on Friday 18 December 2020.

8.    HSE Update

Employers must, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed.  Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so focus on improving general ventilation, preferably through fresh air or mechanical systems.  The HSEs latest guidance is available here

9.     Useful Resources

BMJ article on Work team identification associated with less stress and burnout among front-line HCW's during covid19.  The brief report is available here

The Society and Faculty of Occupational Medicine, with the University of Glasgow, hosted a summit bringing together global academic, public health and scientific experts to address questions such as:

  • Does unemployment create a bigger societal risk to health than COVID-19?
  • Are scientific approaches to individual and societal risk to COVID-19 challengeable?
  • What long-term approach to risk should medical leaders take to the public?
  • Do people understand risk and what level of risk can we afford?

The YouTube recording of the event is here  


The NHS Health at Work Network brings together all OH teams providing health and wellbeing services to NHS OH staff.  It is dedicated to providing consistent, high quality health at work services to all NHS staff through collaborative working.

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Please share this bulletin with colleagues and encourage them to register to receive it regularly.  Non-Network members can also register to receive the monthly bulletin here.

You can contact the Network through your regional representative or as shown below.  Please get in touch if you have any queries or comments, if there is anything you would like to see in future issues of the bulletin, or if you have news to share.

Dr Shriti Pattani, Chair                                            chair@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

Andrew Gilbey, Network Manager                       admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk  

Postal address: NHS Health at Work, PO Box 857, York YO31 6FR