Police Occupational Health
Police occupational health has a chequered history. Despite investment in services, in the early noughties, there has been a lack of central leadership and investment, on the whole. During the period of financial austerity, following the global economic crash in 2008, many occupational health services withered on the vine. The last decade has seen pressure to improve services, albeit a lack of leadership has meant that progress has been slow. The launch of the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), in 2019, has been the start of a renaissance, under the wellbeing umbrella. The launch of Foundation Occupational Standards is the first step towards creating a national benchmark against which Forces can assess their progress. New enhanced and advanced standards were announced in March 2023.
The police covenant represents a game-changing opportunity to bring police occupational health to the fore and to establish its function to support health and wellbeing and to underpin Force resilience. The covenant will see the appointment of a new national police chief medical officer, who will chair a new Clinical Governance Group. It will give national leadership to the 43 police forces in England and Wales regarding the clinical practice of the their occupational health services, as well as driving systems change to optimise occupational health support.
The Clinical Governance Group will absorb the current NPWS occupational health live service into a dedicated work stream to co-design and deliver changes. Partnership working is essential. The Group will adopt the NPWS capability model (Scan, Develop, Deliver, Evaluate) and will focus on the priorities identified from within occupational health and workforce partners. A key aspect will be securing resources to support the necessary work streams. Financial austerity will continue. However, the covenant will help to compete for limited funds to protect and support police officers and police staff.
A practitioner network was launched in October 2022. This will be an important vehicle for taking forward the occupational health agenda.