Occupational Medical Workforce Crisis

Occupational medicine – Parliamentary group calls for action.

 

 The all-party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health has produced a major report on the crisis facing occupational medicine in the UK. The report, “Occupational medical workforce crisis” shows that there has been a massive fall in the number of new doctors being trained in occupational medicine and changes in the world of work mean that many in-house occupational health services have disappeared.

 

Currently only 1 in 8 UK workers can access a specialist occupational physician. Yet 1.2 million workers suffer from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work; a further 0.8 million former workers suffer from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work. Over 23 million working days are lost annually due to work-related illness.

 

The All-party Parliamentary Group report shows that the crisis in recruitment and the large number of existing occupational doctors nearing retirement threatens the UK’s ability to provide its workers with access to the medical expertise to prevent, identify and manage occupational diseases.

 

Amongst the recommendation, the report calls for:

  • A new model of funding for the training of occupational physicians
  • More support to ensure employers provide workers with access to multi-disciplinary occupational health services
  • For occupational medicine to be part of the core curricula for all medical undergraduates and doctors in postgraduate training.

 

Ian Lavery MP, Chair of the All-Party group stated “Given the huge number of workers who are being injured or made ill at work we need to work towards every employee having access to an occupational health service. That means, among other things, enough doctors qualified in occupational medicine. We need urgent action to support and develop the profession.

 

A copy of the report, which was published on 18th October can be found here