‘Occupational health as we know it is dead. Long live OH’

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With the UK being battered by the disruptive forces of Covid and Brexit, is it time for OH practitioners to be brave and stop worrying about the NMC or even thinking of themselves as nurses? In a very personal perspective, Lindsey Hall sets out the case for why OH needs systemic change.

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Having just read, Standards of proficiency for specialist community public health nursing, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) post-registration consultation document for professionals, I can’t help thinking that the profession as we know it is dead.

The whole premise for the NMC’s view of the occupational health nurse in the 21st century continues to be skewed to a belief that we exist in a fantasy world. It is a world of health promotion at the behest of the public purse and not the business, absence management and health surveillance-driven reality of those organisations who choose to employ us – and I include the NHS and other public sector bodies in that.

The language used to describe role of the SCPHN (specialist community public health nurse) OH nurse and their core proficiencies and spheres of influence is undeniably laudable. It just misses the point.

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The provision of occupational health advice is no longer a branch of the nursing profession and hasn’t been for years. The recruiting of a physiotherapist and OT to the team providing a service to one of the major banks in 2004 firmly cemented a belief that I had been questioning for years – that you don’t need to be a nurse to do this job. I’ve thought that way ever since.

Irrelevance of NMC

I am well aware that most in OH still have a nursing background, but that is a fact of history. I have been in the profession since th

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