Understanding the provision of occupational health and work-related musculoskeletal services

The government has published new research mapping the existing provision of occupational health across the UK and NHS musculoskeletal services available across England.

Occupational health (OH) was defined as advisory and support services which help to maintain and promote employee health and wellbeing. OH services support organisations to achieve these goals by providing direct support and advice to employees and managers, as well as support at the organisational level. For example to improve work environments and cultures.

The research aimed to:

  • examine the private and NHS models of OH service provision available
  • investigate how these are commissioned, resourced and accessed
  • examine the workforce of private and NHS providers
  • investigate the commissioning of MSK and work-related NHS services

It found that the most commonly commissioned services were health surveillance and assessments of fitness for work. Experts and OH providers both felt that employers were most commonly motivated by legal obligation, with more ‘aspirational’ improvements to productivity and wellbeing being secondary motivations.

When the NHS was established, occupational health was not included in its responsibilities, but the responsibility fell to the employer instead. In the experts’ view, the NHS’s traditional stance has contributed to employment outcomes being largely overlooked in studies of health interventions.

Read a summary of the report here and the full report here.