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Wales extends occupational health support services to all GPs

GPs in Wales are set to benefit from the expansion of occupational health support services, currently only available to directly employed NHS staff, thanks to a £200,000 investment.

The Welsh Government today announced that from April, GPs are entitled to the same support as NHS staff in their health board, which can include burnout and mental health support.

Wales is currently operating a wider review of occupational health, including developing recommendations for national minimum standards for services, which currently vary by health board.

A Welsh Government spokesperson did confirm to Pulse that some regions are already offering assessment and support for psychological and emotional wellbeing as part of their occupational health scheme.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board offers occupational psychology assessment, and emotional wellbeing support provided by occupational therapists, as one part of its occupational health services.

GP leaders welcomed the news as a ‘step in the right direction’, but added services should also be extended to practice staff.

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of GPC Wales said: ‘Occupational health services are a crucial part of ensuring that the health of the workforce is optimised and maintained by enabling those with health problems or disabilities to remain in work with appropriate adjustments or, where there are severe and long-term health issues, to fairly leave employment.’

Health and social services minister Professor Mark Drakeford – who recently sat down with Pulse to discuss the pressures and priorities in Welsh general practice – said: ‘I very much value the work GPs do to care for people across Wales. In return, I want to ensure GPs have access to services which ensure their health and wellbeing needs are taken care of.

‘We already invest in the Health for Health Professionals service for all doctors in Wales and this additional £200,000 investment ensures all GPs will have access to comprehensive occupational health and wellbeing services.’

Pulse has been fighting for occupational health support to be made available to all GPs as part of its Battling Burnout campaign, and had a success last year when NHS England announced it would introudce national standards for occupational health supprot available to all GPs.