Editorials

Workplace health in primary care premises

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.6998.140 (Published 15 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:140
  1. Ruth Jackson, Research student,
  2. Graham C Sutton, Honorary lecturer
  1. Wakefield Healthcare, Wakefield WF1 1LT
  2. Nuffield Institute for Health, Leeds LS2 9PL

    Has been neglected

    One of the strategies of the Health of the Nation is to improve health in the workplace, especially in NHS workplaces.1 Health care is labour intensive, so better health of staff should lead to a more effective and economical service as well as directly benefiting employees. Staff sickness in the NHS is not accurately quantified but may cost many millions of pounds annually,2 much of it being due to avoidable causes such as back injury. As the NHS is founded on primary care one might expect the health of primary care staff, and of their workplaces, to have received particular attention. In fact, it remains underdeveloped and under researched.

    This neglect reflects several biases. Firstly, initiatives within the health service have so far concentrated on hospitals, where there is economy of scale and a tradition of managerial control. Secondly, practices interested in ensuring a healthy workplace may not have the greatest need: poorly organised and overworked practices probably have more hazardous premises and their staff probably have worse health. Thirdly, for doctors and dentists one can obtain statistics such as deaths due to suicide or cirrhosis and point to responses such as the sick doctors …

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