Planning the Future.  Implications for occupational health; delivery and training (March 2016)

Doctor and colleagueIt is widely recognised in the Occupational Health professions that the need for OH greatly outstrips the supply of appropriately qualified professionals.  Changing workforce demographics is likely to make this worse with more people having to stay in employment longer.  However, it is also clear that OH provision is not restricted to face-to-face interventions and that new approaches such as telephone help lines and self-help websites have a part to play.

In order to map out future requirements the Council supported a project that aimed to articulate a vision of how occupational health should be delivered over the next 20 years and to identify the workforce planning that is needed to support that vision.

Professor John Harrison led the Workforce Planning Project Group on behalf of the Council.  The first phase involved a literature review and a series of workshops with representatives of relevant stakeholder organisations to consider the strategic environment and define the populations that need to be addressed.
A copy of the report on the first phase of this project is available here.  Planning the future: Delivering a vision of good work and health in the UK for the next 5-20 years and the professional resources to deliver it (April 2014).

The next stage of the project involved looking at the service delivery models, defining the knowledge, competencies of practitioners and the anticipated workforce requirements.
The project team identified three main driving forces for change in the organisation and delivery of occupational health. They are: the economic situation and availability of funding; demographic shifts in the UK population; and the pattern of chronic and long- term conditions. They made six recommendations for action to ensure that occupational health provision meets the future needs of people of working age, businesses and ‘UK plc’.

• Extend mainstream healthcare provision to include the integration of occupational health.
• The Government should create incentives to encourage investment in healthy workplaces and the uptake of occupational health and wellbeing initiatives.
• Ensure that employers understand the return on investment in occupational health and have access to the right professionals to create healthy and productive work and workplaces and reduce the risk of harm from badly designed or managed work and workplaces.
• Develop competency frameworks to ensure the capability of the multi-professional occupational health workforce through quality assured training.
• Develop models of delivery and workforce planning capability.
• Attract and train the required number of high calibre occupational health practitioners to meet predicted occupational health needs.

A copy of the report on the second phase of this project is available here.