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News 3 December, 2020 Back

Supporting Occupational Health Services in the NHS

Anne-Marie Fast

Anvil’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Juliane Kause, supports a key project to undertake occupational health risk assessments within the UK’s NHS

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the UK’s National Health Service staff in the spotlight as never before. Although the ‘front line’ have received well-deserved praise and support, NHS Occupational Health services have needed to stretch to pick up completely new workloads: screening the health of staff for their risk of working in their existing roles; screening and on-boarding large numbers of volunteers and returners; and administering and reporting antigen test results to make return to work decisions.

In order to identify those more likely to be at risk, with conditions that may potentially be exacerbated during the pandemic, NHS staff were invited to submit ‘health notification’ forms at the onset. It became apparent from the responses that a widescale risk assessment was required, with an initial triage system for those staff members felt to be at ‘increased risk of complications’, pending an individualised risk assessment.

The internal NHS project was undertaken by a team including Anvil’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Juliane Kause. An initial test phase involved telephoning 60 staff in the highest risk clinical areas such as emergency departments and intensive care, to assess individual risk levels. Templates were then developed for each clinical area describing the controls needed for each risk rating, facilitating efficiency as the project rolled out. With the refined processes in place, individualised risk assessments were then completed with over 400 staff working in the most high-risk areas, over a period of four days.

As well as the project’s findings, staff feedback was tremendously appreciative of what was perceived as personal support from Occupational Health. Details of the project “Occupational health: the thin line protecting the front line” were subsequently published in Occupational Medicine, the official peer reviewed journal of the Society of Occupational Medicine -

A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Dr Juliane Kause is a specialist in acute and critical care medicine and a founder member of the international Society for Rapid Response Systems.

Throughout the pandemic, as well as continuing to support Anvil’s global client base, Dr Kause and members of Anvil’s in-house medical assistance team have been working in the UK National Health Service to provide pandemic and clinical support.