Occupational health clinic gains official accreditation
An occupational health clinic in Belfast has become the first medical company in Northern Ireland to gain an official accreditation for exemplary clinical standards. The ‘Occupational Health, Risk and Disability consultancy’ (ohrd) has been awarded the accreditation known as the Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS). This gives its NI clients the comforting knowledge that they are receiving best practice and highly professional services.
Established in 2007 by Consultant Occupational Physician Dr Tony McGread, the company provides occupational health services to public and private enterprises of all sizes including expert advice to employers, occupational pension funds and the legal profession. The company operates from three different locations across Northern Ireland – Belfast City Centre, Derry/Londonderry and Enniskillen.
In the UK, approximately 150 companies have the accreditation however ohrd is the first independent occupational health provider in Northern Ireland to receive this award. The SEQOHS is an accreditation system for occupational health services which is used to raise the overall standard of care provided, helping purchasers differentiate between average and excellent services.
Health and safety legislation in the UK places a statutory duty on employers to keep their employees safe whilst in work, and in particular to manage risks in the workplace likely to give rise to work-related ill health. If any employer seeks occupational health advice, as with all other advice provided to the employer, this needs to be competent, and this is also a requirement under health and safety legislation.
A current issue for both employees and employers is absence from work due to sickness. In February this year, the Director at the NI Audit Office reported that sickness absence in the Civil Service including health and education sectors in NI are higher than those in Great Britain – costing the taxpayer around £150 million a year. In the Private sector in the UK, the CIPD has estimated that sickness absence costs a company £633 per employee.
Common causes of absence are musculoskeletal disorders and mental health, with the UK Equality Commission suggesting employers should expect at any one time nearly one in six of their workforce is affected by a mental health condition.
Commenting on the accreditation, Dr McGread said: “It is a major achievement to receive the SEQOHS. It took 18 months of extensive preparation and a review of all clinical and administrative procedures – covering relationships with our purchasers, clinical and business probity, information governance, and training our staff.
“Attaining this accreditation means our clients can be assured that ohrd uses highly trained and qualified staff, using state-of-the-art, quality procedures to give the best possible advice to those that use the services. Occupational health itself is becoming more prominent, as the UK Government endorses the value of promoting health in the work setting – helping to both prevent and manage ill health can lead to reduced overheads in the long term. Our motto, ‘Managing health – enabling business’, is something which everyone at ohrd actually buys into as well as says.”
ohrd takes a proactive approach; helping employers manage the health of their employees, meet legislative requirements, reduce staff turnover, and by supporting rehabilitation, reduce the cost of sickness absence.