National School of Occupational Health reveals five-year strategy

The National School of Occupational Health (NSOH) has published its five-year strategy, outlining how it will help develop a sustainable OH workforce and quality education and training.

The body, which aims to promote high-quality clinical training and develop more OH practitioners, noted that new models of OH access will be required in future, which will influence the number of OH professionals needed in the UK and the skill mix they have.

It identifies a lack of awareness of OH as a career option and a lack of sufficient and diverse training opportunities as two of the main barriers to increasing the number of OH professionals.

“A multi-agency approach is required to address health and wellbeing in the workplace holistically. There is a need for competency frameworks that reflect new ways of multidisciplinary working and delivery of occupational health,” the NSOH strategy for 2023 to 2028 says.

“Allied with this, improved occupational health workforce planning methods will be required. An example is the NHS ‘Growing OH’ programme, which focuses on NHS workforce development, career pathways, education, training, leadership, and the multidisciplinary team.

“Some OH providers are investing significantly in in-house organic growth of OH practitioners but there needs to be consistency and quality-assured training products that are transferable across the evolving UK workforce.”

It identifies its main objectives as:

  • workforce planning
  • influencing a single approach to education and training in OH
  • developing a quality management framework for specialist OH education and training
  • creating a community of learning for OH practitioners.

It aims to aid workforce planning by creating new training posts and reviving domant ones, as well as improving awareness of OH at various stages of medical training and post-qualification. This includes considering multidisciplinary routes into OH.

It also expects to consider more flexible training routes and use of technology to maximise opportunities for learning.

The strategy also outlines NSOH’s priorities for 2023-2028, including:

  • encouraging an evidence-based and consistent approach to the education, skill, and competency development of OH professionals including career progression
  • high quality learning, supervision, and mentoring
  • ensuring the right professionals, with the right skills and values, are providing clinically effective OH services to the working-age population at the right time
  • obtaining support from stakeholders including government bodies, public and private sector employers, and academia
  • growing the workforce and attracting professionals into the speciality with more training opportunities
  • creating a community of learning and interdisciplinary support throughout the training journey
  • encouraging diverse training providers with a multidisciplinary OH education
  • maximising opportunities for under and post-graduate students to have placements within OH, to grow awareness of OH as a career.

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