Coucil for Work and Health Workforce Planning Report

Pivotal report advocates ‘paradigm shift’ to reposition Occupational Health towards integrated approach

The second report from the Council for Work and Health’s working group on Occupational Health workforce led by Professor John Harrison, Planning the future: Implications for occupational health; delivery and training, has now been published.

Targeting senior policy makers, commissioners of healthcare, decision-makers in occupational health training, as well as employers and managers in organisations it covers in detail their proposal for the future of occupational health and the associated requirements for establishing an OH workforce fit to deliver that vision.  A previous report was published in April 2014, raising considerations on the roles, diversity and needs of a future occupational health workforce.

The latest contribution to the project continues to develop the themes introduced in 2014 including diversifying the occupational health profession and also the development and “repositioning of occupational health” in a paradigm shift to meet future needs and demands for an integrated and multi-disciplinary profession overall.

BHWA, having been set-up to forge a channel between not only the professions but in fact all specialist sectors and contributors to the workplace health industry, obviously welcomes the report which is thorough and insightful and would bring a sea change in the right direction should its recommendations be adopted.  Whether the notion of making Occupational Health in its proposed form the dominant banner for the profession and broader service industry overall, while equally repositioning the profession for wider inclusion, will be accepted by the specialisms concerned remains to be seen. It is potentially a step too far towards dilution for traditionalists and equally a step too short for other solutions that failed make the cut to be included within the proposed OH banner, such as wellbeing programmes being demoted to a “growing field of activity”.

Charlotte Cross, Director of the BHWA, and known advocate of the Council for Work and Health said “I have followed the output of this working group and the Council overall with interest since its conception and I have always felt that it is pivotal to our industry that all stakeholders and contributors should engage to exchange learning and collaborate as widely as possible.” 

“Our own [BHWA’s] position is that we need to establish a new, strong identity for the health at work industry overall; one that recognises the breadth and mix of both mainstream and emerging markets. And what is more, promotes them.”

Cross confirmed “We’re pleased to support this latest report which emphasises the importance of much of this in detail, aligns with our own goals and carries the full weight of the Council behind it. We’re happy to promulgate the recommendations and look forward to sharing the results of change. ”

The report outlines 6 key recommendations:

  1. Extend mainstream healthcare provision to include the integration of occupational health with work as a key clinical outcome for all care pathways formulated for people of working age
  2. The Government should create incentives to increase uptake of health and wellbeing initiatives to support healthy workplaces – looking at tax, rapid access to help and insurance as trigger points
  3. Promote the business case for investment  to employers and ensure easy access to expert help
  4. Develop competency frameworks underpinned by quality assured training to create an occupational health workforce with a distributed range of knowledge, skills and competencies.
  5. OH planning remains complex. To advance requires models of delivery, intelligence and a predictive methodology to understand and satisfy the balance between requirements and supply
  6. Urgently address the current shortfall in the OH profession and further ensure that there are clear attractive career pathways to attract high calibre applicants in the future.


BHWA’s full response will be made available to members and to the Council, and can be requested by email

The executive summary can be found here: EXEC SUM - Planning the future: Implications for occupational health; delivery and training,

The full report can be downloaded here: Planning the future: Implications for occupational health; delivery and training


Submitted by the BHWA news team 05.04.16.  Please send all comments and correspondence to


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