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Occupational health services—standards need to be underpinned by better research on effectiveness
  1. Malcolm R Sim

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The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) of the Royal College of Physicians has recently released a set of standards for accreditation of occupational health services in the UK.1 This is a welcome development and very timely, given the high profile of recent debate about service provision in other areas of the health sector in many countries, such as the USA and Australia. The FOM standards articulate the expectations of a safe, effective, quality occupational health service. It does this by outlining minimum requirements in six important areas of occupational health service provision; business probity, information governance, people, facilities and equipment, relationships with purchasers and relationships with workers. The recommended assessment process for accreditation is to include suitable evidence that eligibility criteria are met, based on customer satisfaction, an on-site assessment visit and self assessment.

The release of these standards by the FOM brings into the spotlight questions regarding the effectiveness of the provision of worker healthcare and prevention activities by occupational health services; as raised in the 2008 review of the health of Britain's working age population by Dame Carol Black.2 Such services should aim to prevent workplace disease and injury, effectively treat and manage workers who develop such conditions and facilitate return to work for injured workers. While many of the activities undertaken by occupational health services are likely to meet the …

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