Governments OH consultation

By Libby Morley

Published 20 September 2023

Parliament buildings

As you may be aware the Government is currently consulting with OH professionals, providers, and wider businesses regarding the future provision of OH services, particularly to increase the uptake of OH services by small and medium enterprises. This opportunity may not present again for many years, and as I am sure you will agree, it’s high time that OH was regarded as the crucial specialty of medicine that we know it is. 

As experts in the field, many membership organisations, including the Society and Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Council for Work and Health, and the National School of Occupational Health are collecting views and responding on members’ behalf.

We are therefore requesting your support in two ways. Firstly, please signpost the two consultations Occupational-health: Working Better Consultation (brief overview below) and Tax Incentives for Occupational Health Consultation to both your OH provider and any clients with whom you work. Encourage them to complete the response form and to submit it themselves.
Secondly, please read the occupational-health-working-better-consultation-response.doc which you can download, edit and save. Please then, send this to admin@ioh.org.uk and/or join us on Tuesday, October 3rd, via the Zoom link, which will be shared on the UKOH Facebook page, for an informal discussion.

We realise that there are many questions and simply ask you to choose those about which you have a view and feedback just on those. There is no expectation that you will answer all of the questions. 

We thank you and look forward to hearing from you no later than October 5th with any feedback (the consultation closes on October 12th, 2023).

Please note that there is no need to register to attend the Zoom meeting, but please pop it in your diary with a reminder! 

Brief overview of OH Working Better: A consultation seeking views on proposals aimed at increasing employer use of Occupational Health Services.


Full document available here

Occupational Health: Working Better – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Response form available here

occupational-health-working-better-consultation-response.docx (live.com)

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by Command of His Majesty in July 2023.

Deadline for responses midnight on October 12th, 2023.

In Spring 2023 the Government introduced “an ambitious and wide-ranging package of new measures worth over £2 billion to support people living with health conditions to succeed in work”.

The Ministerial foreword points out that:

  • Long term sickness is main reason for people of working age not being economically active.
  • OH can provide expert-led impartial advice and interventions.
  • OH services help to keep employees healthy and safe whilst in work and to manage risks in the workplace that could give rise to work-related ill-health.
  • Only 45% of workers in Great Britain have access to OH services, which is significantly lower than some international comparators. 92% of large employers provide some form of OH for their staff, compared to 18% of small employers.
  • A radical shift is needed to improve access and uptake of OH services by employers. This will require diversification of the OH workforce and service models, and work with the private sector to develop a longer-term sustainable, multidisciplinary workforce pipeline that can deliver services for businesses of all sizes, and for employees with a range of needs.

Main aim is:

  • To increase OH take-up and address OH workforce capacity
  • A future where an enabling workplace culture is supported by strong OH market provision, and a skilled multidisciplinary OH workforce that uses effective evidence-based strategies to enable people to live healthier and wealthier working lives.
  • Increasing OH coverage across the UK, within the broader context of enabling better workplace support to improve productivity and prevent ill-health related job loss.
  • To establish agreement and partnership between Government, employers and OH providers, where Government develops clear evidence-based expectations and the underpinning support to enable greater OH take-up, and businesses take bolder steps to support employee health in the workplace. 

One suggested way of achieving this is by looking at other countries successes. France, Finland, the Netherlands, and Japan have increased their OH coverage via a variety of approaches. In some countries OH legislation is enshrined in a single act with focus on an integrated, multidisciplinary service, stipulating rights and roles of employers and employees.

The variety of provision and finding OH is based on national tradition, healthcare systems, legal context, social security system, and economic structure, and include:

  • in-house provision where OH is organised and funded by the employer
  • private provision where outsourced OH operates externally from the employer
  • group service models where OH services are shared and jointly funded by multiple companies
  • community-based healthcare where OH services are provided by regional health service units
  • workers compensation, which is organised via state-run authorities and funded through employer levies; and
  • state provision where OH services are provided through state-run programmes.

There are three chapters, with questions at the end of each, 22 in total.

Chapter One: Opportunities for greater employer action, best-practice sharing and voluntary health at work standards. It sets out voluntary proposals, including a national health at work standard for employers, embedding a baseline for quality OH provision, and best practice sharing, to help provide a simple and clear baseline for quality OH provision to all employers.

Chapter Two: Lessons from international comparators and successful UK-based employer models to drive OH take-up. It examines steps taken by other countries to increase coverage of OH, lessons from successful UK-based employer models to improve support for their employees and potential measures that could apply in the UK.

Chapter Three: Developing the work and health workforce capacity, including the expert OH workforce, to build a sustainable model to meet future demand. It sets out proposals to develop the existing OH workforce capacity and develop a longer-term sustainable multidisciplinary OH workforce in partnership with the private sector.

Please complete the response form, commenting on any about which you have an opinion or knowledge. There is no expectation that ALL questions will be commented on. Please send your completed responses to admin@ioh.org.uk.

You are also invited to a Zoom webinar to discuss the document, followed by our Network and Natter on Tuesday, October 3rd, at 8pm. The Zoom link will be shared on the UKOH Facebook page.

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