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Viewpoint - Two into one? Mark Armour on a single occupational voice

Mark Armour says having a single voice in occupational medicine would make sense.

Being a Scotsman, there is an important vote taking place in my homeland this week over whether Scotland will remain part of the UK. I will also have my eye on another vote which may lead to two historically-disassociated groups joining up.

In 2013 the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and the Society of Occupational Medicine agreed that it was in the best interests of the profession to consider amalgamating. The case for change was driven by an economic one of pooling resources and sharing services, and also the recognition that membership in both organisations was declining.

A single body would provide the best of both worlds for members and the new organisation would be recognised as the single national authority on occupational health issues.

Members of both organisations voted on 16 September (visit: www.fom.ac.uk to view the outcome). An exciting element of the single organisation vision is that nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) working in the occupational health sphere will eventually be included.

Currently, each profession has its own occupational health clinical interest group or professional network. An example of this is the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics (ACPOHE), the CSP professional network that I chair (visit: www.acpohe.org.uk).

ACPOHE’s 350 members work in occupational health. It is run by an executive committee whose members promote best practice and support members through holding an annual  conference and other events. We also produce guidance documents.

One such piece of work is the competency framework for physiotherapists working in occupational health and ergonomics. This provides a basis for physiotherapists to benchmark their practice and highlight areas of competency or development.

Feedback from members of both the faculty and society shows this is a highly regarded and valued document which demonstrates the contribution that the AHPs can make to the occupational health agenda.

Mark Armour is clinical director at RehabWorks, a business to business provider of health and wellbeing services.

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