Trends in NHS doctor and dentist referrals to occupational health

Lalloo, D., Demou, E. and Macdonald, E. (2016) Trends in NHS doctor and dentist referrals to occupational health. Occupational Medicine, 66(4), pp. 316-319. (doi:10.1093/occmed/kqw016) (PMID:26928858) (PMCID:PMC4861137)

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Ill-health in doctors can affect performance and fitness to practice, and consequently patient care and safety, placing an important responsibility on National Health Service (NHS) occupational health (OH) services. Anecdotal discussions amongst NHS occupational physicians suggest an increase in the number of doctor attendances over time, with continuing focus on mental illness. AIMS: To analyse OH referrals in doctors and dentists over 3 years. METHODS: A retrospective evaluation of all doctor and dentist referrals to the OH service in one Scottish NHS board from April 2011 to March 2014, comparing this to management-reported sickness absence (SA) data held by the organization. RESULTS: We found no significant change in overall OH referrals for doctors and dentists during the evaluation period. Mental illness was the commonest referral reason in all 3 years at 32, 38 and 30%, respectively, but no significant change in mental health referrals was demonstrated within the study period. SA events significantly increased during the three study years (356, 426 and 469, respectively; P < 0.05). OH referrals for those absent from work increased significantly between Years 1 and 3 (16 and 30, respectively; P <0.05). CONCLUSIONS: SA events and OH referrals for those absent from work significantly increased between April 2011 and March 2014, but there was no commensurate (statistically significant) increase in overall OH referrals. These findings do not support anecdotal suggestions of increasing OH (or mental ill-health) attendances but can be used as a benchmark for other NHS organizations and for future trend comparisons.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Demou, Dr Evangelia and MacDonald, Professor Ewan and Lalloo, Dr Drushca
Authors: Lalloo, D., Demou, E., and Macdonald, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Occupational Medicine
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0962-7480
ISSN (Online):1471-8405
Published Online:28 February 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Occupational Medicine 66(4): 316-319
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
620221MRC SPHSU/GU Transfer FellowshipsLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_PC_13027IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU