The last month has seen rapid developments in the challenges facing the Peninsula Occupational Health Service (POHS). A round table meeting took place on Wednesday 25th February at which a way forward was agreed between Devon Doctors On Call (DDOC) and the representatives of SHED and Kernow CIC.
The Board of DDOC has sanctioned the use of the POHS surplus to fund the current service beyond 1st April when NHS England funding will largely stop. This means that current arrangements for occupational health will continue unchanged until 31st May. This commitment to stabilising the service allows us the time to structure a new service that will be launched on 1st June.
After April, NHS England will fund a vestigial service including:
1) ongoing treatment costs for those already in therapy
2) OH assessments for those practitioners in performance processes
3) a needlestick injury service
The remainder of OH provision represents the bulk of our current operation and includes the holistic service based at Tamar Science Park and the professional psychological support unit run by Ben Charnaud, Anne Read and Linda Barry. It has been agreed between all the parties that DDOC will continue to be the provider of the ongoing service which will be offered direct to the profession. DDOC intends to subcontract the two parts of the service to the current providers, so that practices and practitioners who sign up will benefit from a holistic service with full psychological support of a standard at least as high as that already enjoyed.
The service to date has cost NHS England less than £500k to provide this exemplar service across the entire peninsula. It is therefore regrettable that this cost will henceforth be born by the profession, but it is also the clear desire locally to see the service continue for the benefit of doctors, staff and indirectly their patients.
Within the next month DDOC expects to write to all practices and practitioners with a clear offer including service specification and costs for an ongoing service that we believe can build on the excellence we already enjoy.
POHS Strategic Development Lead, DDOC.