Welcome to our January 2021 Bulletin

/Board members/Shriti_Pattani

Dear Colleagues

Who could have predicted 2020? Some of us have lost colleagues, friends, or family to Covid-19 and work life has been particularly challenging.  However, the pandemic has also shone light on the importance of NHS Occupational Health services and a better understanding of our role.  At a national level OH is being recognised as a speciality in its own right, worthy of investment.  This in addition to the vaccine makes me feel very hopeful and excited moving into 2021. 

We have recently been working on a specification to cover the Occupational Health clearance required for both the existing NHS workforce and the workforce recruited to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme – further details can be found in item 3 of this newsletter.  

I do hope that you are able to get some well-deserved rest this Christmas. Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year.

Warm regards


Chair, NHS Health at Work Network


In this edition:

1. Annual Conference: 10 March 2021

2. Network AGM: 28 January 2021

3. Covid Occupational Health Guidance

4. OH Staffing Framework - Extended

5. NICE Quality Standard: Workplace Health

6. Occupationally Acquired Covid – the Stats

7. Mental and Financial Impact of Covid

8. Supporting Health and Wellbeing Conversations

9. NHS Childcare Support

10. Free Homeworking Advice and Resources


The next edition of the newsletter will be published week commencing 25 January 2021

1.    An Update on Our Annual Conference: Wednesday 10 March

As a result of the continuing Covid-19 restrictions we have taken the decision to hold our Annual Conference as a ‘live’ virtual Zoom event, rather than the traditional face-to-face conference format.

The conference will run from 09.00 – 17.00 on Wednesday 10 March 2021.

Whilst it will be disappointing for us not to manage our usual get-together, I am delighted to be able to advise that for the first time ever the conference will be available to every single member of the team who work in the OH Services registered as Full or Associate Members of the Network.   

We also appreciate that whilst work demands may limit the numbers able to join us ‘live’ on the day, all the speakers’ presentations will be recorded and held on our Members-only area of the website for colleagues to be able to watch at their leisure any time over the following 6 months.

We have a great line up of speakers confirmed including: 

  • Dame Carol Black (Expert Adviser on Health and Work)
  • Dr Anne de Bono (President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine)
  • Dr Olivia Donnelly (Consultant Clinical Psychologist)
  • Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice (Deputy Chief People Officer, NHSE&I) [invited], and
  • NHS Occupational Health leaders presenting some thought-provoking case studies

To register your place please e-mail forumconferences@btinternet.com

Please ensure you share this message with every member of your team who wishes to attend the ‘live’ event and encourage them to e-mail forumconferences@btinternet.com to guarantee their conference place.

For those of you who have previously booked and paid for additional delegate places, we will be writing to you directly with your options.

The full conference programme and timings will be published in January, but please do start to reserve your places from today!

2.    Network Annual General Meeting – 28 January 2021

The Network will be holding its’ Annual General Meeting via Zoom on Thursday 28 January, 16.30 – 17.15.  This will consist of a review of the 2019/20 year, presentation of the financial report, reflections on 2020/21 and a forward view.  This will be presented by Dr Shriti Pattani (Network Chair), Hilary Winch (Chair Elect) and Giles Wright (Deputy Chair).

This event is restricted to Full and Associate Members of the Network.  To register your place, please e-mail admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk    

3.    Covid Occupational Health Guidance

Please see attached a specification which has been developed to cover the Occupational Health clearance required for both the existing NHS workforce and the workforce recruited to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme.  The NHS Health at Work Network and other senior NHS OH colleagues were involved in drawing up this specification.

4.    OH Staffing Framework - Extended

NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed a simplified framework that enables NHS organisations to easily and quickly procure additional temporary Occupational Health services to support them with the increased pressures due to Covid-19 and the winter pressures expected in the coming months where they have insufficient inhouse capacity. This has now been extended for a further 9 months to ensure that we can support NHS organisations through and beyond the second wave of Covid-19, winter pressures and support the Covid - 19 Vaccination programme once this is available.

5.    NICE quality standard on Workplace health: long-term sickness absence The draft Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and capability to work : quality standard consultation is now open.

Please submit your comments on the form listed on the website and ensure all relevant fields are completed. Responses must be submitted to QSconsultations@nice.org.uk by 5pm on Monday 11 January 2021.

6.    Occupationally acquired COVID-19

The Health and Safety Executive have reported that in the 7 months to 14 November there were 14,428 notifications of suspected occupational infections with Covid-19, and 189 work-related deaths.  67% of notifications came from the health and social care sector (147 deaths).  The education sector accounted for 10% of notifications. 

7.    Covid: The Mental Health and Financial Impact 

A recent report by The Work Foundation provides analysis on how workers' mental and financial wellbeing changed at the onset of the pandemic.

They’ve also recently published analysis exploring the links between financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that those who were just getting by prior to the crisis were 7 times more likely to struggle financially now compared with people who were better off, and that unsurprisingly this was bringing with it increased mental distress.

8.    Guidance: Supporting Health and Wellbeing Conversations

New guidance has been published by NHS England and NHS Improvement to support health and wellbeing conversations .

The guidance supports the ask in the NHS People Plan, which is that all staff have regular wellbeing conversations and a personalised wellbeing plan to ensure a healthy workforce that is delivering quality patient care.

9.     A Reminder: Childcare support for NHS colleagues

This year has been extraordinarily difficult for people working across the NHS, and if you’re a parent or carer with childcare responsibilities, your work, life and family balance can be hard to achieve. As we come up to the school holidays, we wanted to make sure you’re aware of the support which is available to you as NHS staff.

  • Cityparents: Cityparents’ programme offers expertise and support to help you balance work with family life, including podcasts, as well as support groups and webinars.
  • Place2Be: Place2Be’s programme offers arts & craft resources and supportive webinar recordings to help keyworker parents, carers and their families during COVID-19.
  • PACEY: The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years provide practical and impartial support and information for families and carers and those advising them. They are welcoming all queries and offering support for keyworkers and their families.

10. Free homeworking advice and resources 

Many more employees are now working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s important to have trust and confidence between employees and employers. Homeworking provides many benefits for both employees and employers, however, there are often associated challenges.

Workplace experts, Acas, have free advice and resources to help employers, managers and staff work effectively and manage wellbeing. They also offer managing homeworkers training.

Acas’ homeworking advice covers making arrangements, thinking about Health, Safety and Wellbeing, keeping in touch, managing working from home and longer-term changes.


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.

Members of OH teams in NHS Health at Work Network member organisations can receive the bulletin and access the restricted areas of the website as a membership benefit – if you are not sure of your login details email admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk   

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