Letters After Mid Staffs

Importance of occupational health services for staff

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2158 (Published 08 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2158
  1. Paul J Nicholson, occupational physician1
  1. 1BMA Occupational Medicine Committee, BMA House, London WC1H 9JP, UK
  1. pjnicholson{at}doctors.org.uk

Employee health and wellbeing influence whether people work at their peak and are important success factors for individual and organisational performance. For the NHS to consistently deliver the highest quality care to patients, employees must be supported at work by programmes that protect and promote the highest levels of health and wellbeing.1

Occupational health enhances and maintains the health of people at work, ensuring they operate safely and increasing the effectiveness of organisations by providing expert advice to management.2 It is BMA policy that all employees in the NHS and elsewhere have access to such specialist led services. NHS good practice guidance states that “providing a first class OH [occupational health] and safety service for NHS staff and GPs and their staff is the responsibility of all who work in the NHS.”3 4 Despite this, GP occupational health services are jeopardised as the NHS Commissioning Board reviews funding.5

The Francis report noted that a Health and Safety Executive inspection reported at least one observation that might have had implications for the standard of patient care.6 Staff in some departments had particularly high stress levels and felt poorly supported by the organisation. Although occupational health services can help employees who experience stress, the responsibility for identifying and managing stress, for tackling the causes, and for creating a stress-free culture rests with leadership.

The Francis report also recommends considering an accreditation scheme for managers.6 Occupational health is an exemplar—a professionally led accreditation scheme was launched in December 2010. More than 40 NHS occupational health services are already accredited, with a commitment for all to be accredited.

Occupational health services must be provided for all NHS staff and those services must be supported effectively to deliver appropriate care.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2158


  • Competing interests: None declared.