On 1st December 2010, the SEQOHS (Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service) accreditation scheme was launched. This is the first time the UK will have system which establishes national standards for occupational health services and which accredits services against those standards.
The overarching aim of SEQOHS is to provide occupational health services with a framework for quality assurance, and thus to drive up standards in occupational health. SEQOHS will also help to inform those purchasing or commissioning services, and aims to make a meaningful difference to the health of the working-age population.
SEQOHS is a voluntary accreditation scheme which applies to both NHS and private occupational health services and which has relevance for all sizes of service, from single-handed practices to large nation-wide providers. The accreditation process is based on standards that were developed in partnership with a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary stakeholder group. The standards are organised in six categories: Business probity; Information governance; People; Facilities and equipment; Relationships with purchasers; and Relationships with workers.
The project has been led by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. The Faculty is pleased to announce that the Royal College of Physicians of London is being appointed to develop and operate the accreditation scheme. The College will be building on its experience of running the national endoscopy service accreditation scheme.
Both service providers and potential assessors can now register on the SEQOHS website, at http://www.seqohs.org or via the link below.
The standards on which the accreditation system is based were launched by Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, in January 2010. The intention was to allow time and to encourage all occupational health services – in both the NHS and the private
sector – to familiarise themselves with the standards, and to work towards complying with them during 2010.
The plan is for accreditation to be operational in the first half of 2011. The software is in place and work will continue in early 2011 to select and train assessors and to further develop the full infrastructure for the scheme.
The project began in August 2008, when the Faculty of Occupational Medicine invited stakeholders to join a working group to develop standards and a system of voluntary accreditation for occupational health services in the UK. Stakeholders included representatives from occupational medical and nursing professional bodies, commercial occupational health providers, employer and worker representative bodies and government departments and regulators.
Dame Carol Black’s review Working for a Healthier Tomorrow (2008) advocated clear standards of practice and formal accreditation of all providers who support people of working age. The lack of standards and accreditation was highlighted consistently in responses to her call for evidence from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the Society of Occupational Medicine and other organisations.