As the largest group of health professionals delivering health services in the workplace, occupational health nurses are at the frontline in helping to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of the working population (DH, 2003). The Government White Paper (2010) aims to give power to the front line clinicians and patients in order to improve public health, tackle health inequalities and reform adult and health social care. The workplace is important in shaping people’s health and in providing opportunities to improve health since each adult individual spends a considerable amount of time in the workplace (Black, 2008). The Government has stated its clear commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of staff and health care services therefore occupational health services to health care staff should play a key role in the delivery of safe, effective and efficient patient care through promoting and protecting staff health (DH, 2011). The occupational health nurse should be able to prioritise, understand and respond to the needs of the local community or individual whilst bearing in mind their public health role and any local or national government targets and economic constraints (DOH, 2004). Adopting a public health approach involves taking the lead in assessing and responding to the health needs of the wider population and developing new ways of partnership working (Griffiths, 2005).
A health needs assessment (HNA) is a recommended public health tool used to provide evidence about a population on which to plan services and address health inequalities; it is a systematic method of reviewing the health issues facing a population, leading to agreed priorities and resource allocation that will improve health and reduce inequalities (Cavanagh and Chadwick, 2005). A health needs assessment of a population in the workplace is the most obvious public health activity in the workplace as it means systematically looking at the health needs of the workforce using health information involving colleagues, employees and employers (DOH, 2003; Griffiths, 2005). The framework used to complete this health needs assessment is based on guidance from the Department of Health (2003) Steps to Success see Appendix 1. Health Needs Assessment
STAGE 1: Organisational Profile
The ABC Occupational Health (OH) Department in the Trust is a small department run by a multidisciplinary team offering a one stop shop for staff providing clinical services which include physical rehabilitation, mental health services and complementary therapies from a team of occupational health nurses, a physician, counsellors, physiotherapists, clinical psychologist, osteopath, and acupuncturist. The department meets the Department of Health (DH) 2011 recommended service level agreements based on the six core services of prevention, timely intervention, rehabilitation, health assessments for work, promotion of health and well-being, teaching and training as evidenced by the services provided. The department provides occupational health services to a large NHS Trust, four Primary Care Trusts and various non NHS clients in the London borough (RT Trust Intranet, 2011). For the purposes of this profile only the NHS Trust will be discussed.
RT Trust is the largest community healthcare provider in the boroughs of X, Y and Z. The Trust is set over four sites and covers a six mile radius around its headquarters.