• Tomorrow’s doctors need more Occupational Health training – in the long term this should improve as the next GMC syllabus will include Health and Wellbeing.
• A national education programme for GP’s is under way with 2000+ already trained
• An E-learning package is also now available for GP’s and Hospital Doctors.
• Advice lines are also available e.g. Healthy Working UK (0800 107 0900 for Wales & 0800 077 844 for England
• Make more use of the Guidance ( http://www.dwp.gov.uk/fitnote/ )
And finally – the electronic fit note will make things clearer when it is introduced. NASHiCS Executive will be supporting this initiative and will keep members informed of future developments and timescales for introduction.
Following the refreshment break
Chris welcomed Patrick Hyde to the stage. Patrick is a Chartered Physiotherapist and specialist back care risk assessor working with Loughborough University.
Health care professionals, when making a clinical diagnosis, often do not have any practical information about the conditions in the workplace. Conversely, whilst employers have insight into the conditions within the workplace, they lack an understanding of the clinical symptoms of their employees. He illustrated a typical communication network.
He also illustrated with a diagram the lack of communication between health professionals and employers’ occupational health professionals. It is clear that the employer has the ability to provide the health professional with additional information to assist with completion of the fit note and informing any plans that will enable the employee to remain/return to work.
In order to address some of these issues the DWP is sponsoring 11 pilot studies in the UK including Scotland-wide, Dundee, Rhyl , Birmingham, Eastern and Coastal Kent, Greater Manchester, Kensington and Chelsea, Leicestershire, North Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Wakefield District.
There are no preliminary findings at present; however, the results are due in April 2011.
Allied health care professionals within the NHS are not be accessed at present. There is no safe pathway for feedback to employers. They don’t want to get embroiled in case management and patient confidentiality issues. Communication issues are similar with GP’s, with time constraints, confidentiality and little or no training in occupational health matters being just a few.
Patrick proposed a formal communication model illustrated in his presentation
In this model allied health care professionals have a formal link to line managers and GP’s. The comments section of the fit note could be updated by everyone involved.
It would also be useful to have a simple hazard identification risk assessment giving an overview of the job role. This would enable everyone involved to make decisions based on the job role and the known hazards. Appropriate adaptations could be planned using this information.
There is a need to ensure that information flows between all involved. This could be achieved using an electronic system.
There are some organisational barriers at present that prevent this system becoming a reality, however with some partnership working it should be possible to overcome these barriers in the future.