The Context

The NHS is being asked to make efficiency savings whilst at the same time improve the quality of care. Occupational health can play a key role in helping Trusts achieve this vision.

NHS organisations that prioritise staff health and wellbeing will achieve enhanced performance, have lower rates of sickness absence and improve patient care.

Historically, occupational health in the NHS has focused on health risk management, sickness absence and health surveillance. Occupational health in the future will continue to deliver the core services but new ways of working will mean a shift of emphasis so that occupational health is much more proactive.

New ways of working to meet an evolving NHS

This shift will mean that there will be more focus on the:

  • Management of long term conditions for people at work
  • Rehabilitation of people back to work
  • Employee health and wellbeing
  • Health and wellbeing of working age population and greater links with public health

To achieve this vision occupational health services are changing and developing the services they provide and the ways they work. 

Changes include:

  • Widespread deployment of effective case management to reduce sickness absence
  • Fast tracking of NHS staff so that occupational health has a ‘gatekeeper' role
  • Streamlining and paperless/paper-lite systems and greater use of technology
  • Proactive campaigns to staff
  • Services being delivered by fewer, larger occupational health services who are accredited to agreed national clinical and business standards

The NHS Health at Work Network brings together 90% of the occupational health teams providing health and wellbeing services to NHS staff.  Our focus is on providing consistent, high quality health at work services to all NHS staff through collaborative working. Please get in touch if you would like to influence our work or have ideas or initiatives to share.