Welcome to our April 2020 Network e-bulletin

Dear Colleagues

COVID 19 has swamped our already busy workload in Occupational Health. 

The Network is keeping members updated by email on the latest national guidance and if you want us to support you in other ways please email me.

Last Friday the Faculty of Occupational Medicine released a very useful information sheet on ‘COVID -19 keeping our Workforce Safe’ outlining the role of NHS OH in the current pandemic. There is also information on how OH teams can contribute to the best management of healthcare staff for whom there are concerns about specific vulnerabilities to COVID 19. 

We have had an overwhelming response to a request for volunteers with an OH qualification to support NHS occupational health departments. The list with the contact details is available on the website if you would like to access more help.  We are also working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to further identify what additional resources and information would be helpful for our OH Services to be able to access.

With best wishes

Shriti Pattani



In this edition:

  1. It’s Time To Sign Up/Renew Your NHS Network Membership!
  2. Covid-19
  3. New Network Board Members
  4. Network Benefit: MoHaWK
  5. Happy Retirement Wendy!
  6. HSE Updates
  7. Nursing Update
  8. The Government’s Response To Our Letter
  9. Drugs Testing in the Workplace
  10. Menopause At Work Guidance
  11. Wellbeing and Burn Out Intervention for NHS Staff


The next edition will be circulated week commencing 4 May 2020.

1.             It’s Time To Sign Up/Renew Your NHS Network Membership!

It’s great to see so many of our Members have already signed up for the coming year.  If you haven’t managed to do so just yet, don’t forget the early-bird discount closes on the 30 April.

Signing up guarantees that you don’t miss out on our exclusive range of Network benefits which include:

  • A free place at the NHS Network’s Annual Conference
  • Free access to MoHaWK – the clinical benchmarking tool for occupational health
  • Free listing on our ‘Find A Provider’ page – helping you to win new business
  • Inclusion on the ‘OH Clearance for National Performer’s List’
  • Ask-A-Question – the opportunity to pick the brains of over 2,000 OH professionals and seek advice around any new challenges you face, or general questions you have
  • Discounted access to clinical skills training and conferences – worth hundreds of pounds!
  • Access to our Member’s only area of the website - providing advice and guidance 24/7
  • Free job advertising on our website for those ‘hard-to-fill’ OH vacancies
  • Keeping you updated – we work hard to make sure you find out first about the important and crucial developments in the OH world that may affect your Service, such as the recent coronavirus outbreak.

See our full range of exclusive benefits here

If you haven’t already seen it, please check your inbox, or spam folders, for the renewal e-mail and letter we sent out last month.  If you need it again, along with sign-up forms, just contact admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

2.    Covid-19

The NHS Health at Work Network sent a message to the wider OH community asking for support during the Covid-19 pandemic via our friends at FOM and SOM.

We have been overwhelmed with the response, ranging from single-handed practitioners through to large occupational health businesses.  We have developed a database of support for NHS OH teams to access if you are looking for extra help from OH doctors and nurses.  Please do feel free to make contact with any of the individuals or businesses listed – over 250 so far - to discuss with them your specific needs and how they may be able to support you in your Trusts.

We are also developing a webpage on our site which contains the latest FOM Covid-19 guidance and helpful examples of local good practice.  If you would like to contribute some case studies or your examples of good practice, guidance, risk assessments, top-tips, FAQs, etc., etc. – then please do send them to admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

The Network has also been in discussion with NHS England and NHS Improvement regarding some further practical assistance for our OH teams.  We will keep you regularly updated on progress.

3.    New Network Board Members

We are delighted to announce that Hazel Ade-Williams, Associate Director for Occupational Health and Wellbeing at Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group has joined the Network Board as the representative for the East of England region.

Helen Parsons, Occupational Health Manager at Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has joined the Board as the interim representative for the South East Coast region.  If any colleagues in the south east region are interested in this role, please get in touch with us through our admin address at the end of this bulletin.

A warm welcome to Hazel and Helen.  If you are in their regions, please do use them as your link to the Network Board.

4.    Network Benefit: MoHaWK

Round 16 has now closed. If you need a break from COVID-19 related activities then think about pulling your report. The system is designed that you pull your own reports. Just click on the report tab of the system and choose ‘Round report’. NB sometimes you have to be patient and let your browser catch up when the report is downloading!  It is recognised that at this time, that some continuous improvement work may be put on hold as you deal with demand relating to the current situation. The FOM / Mohawk team will review and advise on whether Round 17 will take place in future bulletins.

If you have any queries surrounding the reports contact hilary.winch@nnuh.nhs.uk (please bear with me if I do not respond as quickly as normal as I too am supporting frontline staff).

5.    Happy Retirement Wendy!

After many years of sterling service to firstly NHS Plus, then Syngentis and the NHS Health at Work Network, Wendy Coleman retired at the end of March.  Wendy has been a lynchpin of the Network and has played a critical role as we have continued to flourish.  If you have any questions or need any help, please though do continue to contact admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

We wish Wendy a happy and healthy retirement!

6.    HSE Updates

The HSE has published two short leaflets for employers on managing the risks of musculoskeletal disorders. These are available for download from the HSE website as follows:

INDG143 Manual handling at work: A brief guide (revision)

This leaflet is aimed at employers. It gives useful practical advice on reducing the risk of injury from manual handling. It:

  • explains the problem with manual handling
  • includes simple risk filters for lifting and lowering, pushing and pulling, and carrying operations to distinguish between low- and high-risk tasks
  • provides practical advice on making a risk assessment
  • suggests ways of controlling the risks

This updated version brings the risk assessment process in line with Appendix 1 of HSE’s Guidance on the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992  (L23). The section on safe handling techniques has been moved to HSE’s website. There are no changes to policy or regulation.

INDG171 Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace: A brief guide (revision)

This leaflet is aimed at employers. It gives practical advice on reducing the risk of upper limb disorders (ULDs) which affect the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, as well as the neck. It explains:

  • what upper limb disorders are
  • their symptoms and causes
  • how to manage the risks around them
  • what employers can do to help their workers

This updated version now includes a simple filter to help identify low-risk tasks which do not need further assessment. There is no change in policy or regulation.

7.    Nursing Update

As part of the Post Registration Steering Group, the NMC agreed at their Council in January 2020 to:

  • withdraw the current specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) qualification standards no later than 2023, and develop new standards of proficiency for health visiting, school nursing and occupational health nursing fields of SCPHN practice and associated programme standards
  • withdraw the current nine specialist practice qualifications (SPQ) standards no later than 2023 and scope standards of proficiency content of a proposed new SPQ for community nursing practice and associated programmes standards

Over the next year, the NMC will review these standards, and will be working collaboratively with key stakeholders across all four countries of the UK. Consultation will start at the end of the year before the Council approves the final standard by September 2021.

If you are interested in staying in touch with this work, you can join the NMC’s post registration standards community of interest group by emailing prscoi@nmc-uk.org

Any questions can be mailed to EducationandStandards@nmc-uk.org

8.    The Government’s Response To Our Letter 

A coalition of over 30 employers, charities and health experts, including the NHS Health at Work Network, wrote to the Prime Minister last month to urge him to keep to a commitment he made last summer and look at ‘offering preferential tax treatment to companies that look after the mental health and wellbeing of their employees in work’ in his first Budget on 11 March.

Following the Chancellor’s budget statement earlier this month, buried deep in the Budget Red Book  was a section on: Tax treatment of welfare counselling provided by employersHere it mentions that the government will extend from April 2020 the scope of non-taxable counselling services to include related medical treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, when provided to an employee as part of an employer’s welfare counselling services. 

This is good news and an important step in our #WorkingWell campaign. We appreciate this tax saving doesn't fulfill all the asks we have been making of government and we will obviously keep pushing for the other requests, however we are pleased to get some traction.

9.    Drugs Testing in the Workplace

A new TUC document has been released to help decisions about workplace drug testing. Despite claims from drugs-testing companies, there is no real evidence that drug-testing is becoming common-place in British workplaces. It is mainly used, often with union agreement, in safety critical areas such as transport and energy generation. There is also increased usage in the construction industry. However generally, where wide-scale drug testing has been considered, it has been rejected either because of cost or doubts over the effectiveness.  

Background information and a summary as well as the pdf are available at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/resource/drug-testing-workplace

10.  Menopause At Work Guidance

The Menopause at work guidance is now live on the NHS Employers website.

11. Wellbeing and Burnout Intervention for NHS Staff

Researchers at King's College London have partnered with frontline staff and wellbeing leads to develop a simple, rapid approach to boost wellbeing and combat burnout.  

They would like members to forward to their NHS colleagues, doctor, nurses, AHP etc. to give them an opportunity to participate by signing up to this very brief survey

The intention of the research is to improve understanding of how to tackle burnout across the NHS.

Further details can be directed to harry.fletcher-wood@kcl.ac.uk.


The NHS Health at Work Network brings together all OH teams providing health and wellbeing services to NHS OH staff.  It is dedicated to providing consistent, high quality health at work services to all NHS staff through collaborative working.

Members of OH teams in NHS Health at Work Network member organisations can receive the bulletin and access the restricted areas of the website as a membership benefit – if you are not sure of your login details email admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk.  

Please share this bulletin with colleagues and encourage them to register to receive it regularly. 

Non-Network members can also register to receive the monthly bulletin.


You can contact the Network through your regional representative or as shown below.  Please get in touch if you have any queries or comments, if there is anything you would like to see in future issues of the bulletin, or if you have news to share.

Dr Shriti Pattani, Chair                                            chair@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

Andrew Gilbey, Network Manager                       admin@nhshealthatwork.co.uk

Postal address: NHS Health at Work, PO Box 857, York YO31 6FR