In April 2016 GPs in Wales were given access to occupational health (OH) services for the first time. They are now able to benefit from the same services that are available to directly-employed NHS staff in their health board area, including time with an OH consultant and a range of health and wellbeing services.
The extension of OH services is one element of a wider review of how services can be delivered more effectively and in line with the principles of prudent healthcare. It also complements the Health for Health Professionals Service, which is available to all doctors in Wales and provides an improved health and wellbeing offer for all GPs in Wales.
Professor Mark Drakeford, Health and Social Services Minister, said:
“I very much value the work GPs do to care for people across Wales. In return, I want to ensure GPs have access to services which ensure their health and wellbeing needs are taken care of.
“We already invest in the Health for Health Professionals service for all doctors in Wales and this additional £200,000 investment ensures all GPs will have access to comprehensive occupational health and wellbeing services.”
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of The General Practitioners Committee Wales said:
“Occupational Health Services are a crucial part of ensuring that the health of the workforce is optimised and maintained by enabling those with health problems or disabilities to remain in work with appropriate adjustments or, where there are severe and long-term health issues, to fairly leave employment.”
Dr Jane Fenton-May, Vice Chair Policy and Public Affairs commented:
“GPs are working harder than ever to meet increasing patient demand with reduced resources. Our ageing and growing population means that we are holding more consultations and unrelenting workload pressure undoubtedly puts our physical and mental health at risk.
“Fatigue and stress among GPs is increasing, and this could have a detrimental impact on the care that our patients receive. Better access for GPs to occupational health services is a necessary, positive step forward.”
Source: New service to ensure better health and wellbeing for Wales’ GPs, Welsh Government, 2016, http://www.wales.nhs.uk/news/41013