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last updated:25/01/2012 @ 9:09 am
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Competency 6 – Working with colleagues: Occupational health services in the context of UK healthcare

Objective: to understand the differing roles of those in the multi-disciplinary occupational health team

1. Good Medical Practice: www.gmc-uk.org paragraphs 41-55.

2. Management for Doctors: www.gmc-uk.org paragraphs 46-53

The General Medical Council (GMC) outlines in some depth the importance of working with colleagues in ‘Good Medical Practice’. It is highlighted as one of the key provisions of good standard of practice and care to best serve patients’ interest.

In general, most doctors work in teams with colleagues from other professions; for example in a hospital setting doctors work with nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and managers. Doctors working in isolation are unable to provide complete patient care and require the input of other valuable health professionals. Doctors often act as the team leader to provide coherence, focus and direction to what is a multidisciplinary venture.



Occupational health services are not distributed uniformly in the UK. Occupational health provision is influenced by the size of the company and the nature of the industry. In the public sector (NHS, civil service, etc) 72% of employees have access to a doctor at the workplace compared with only 20% of workers in the private sector.

Broadly speaking the provision of occupational health in the UK can be divided into:

  • Government Services-Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS)
  • Provision in Industry/private sector.
  • NHS

There is no legal obligation on an employer to provide a doctor or nurse at the workplace in the UK which is in contrast to other European countries. In the UK the only obligation is to provide first-aid. However in some industries (e.g. working with ionising radiation, lead, or asbestos), there is statutory obligations to provide regular health screening by an ‘Appointed Doctor’ or a doctor employed by EMAS. (See Competency 5 for further details).