The Occupational Health Advisers and Physician are bound by a strict code of conduct including confidentiality, accountability and consent.
All nursing and medical personnel working in those capacities within the Occupational Health Service (OHS) are registered with the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) in the case of Occupational Health Advisors (OHA) or the GMC (General Medical Council) in the case of Physicians. Both OHAs and Physicians hold further qualifications, recordable with their relevant registering body, in Occupational Health.
The OHS professional must follow various standards and guidance for practice, examples of these include:
- The Code – Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses, midwives and nursing associates, Nursing & Midwifery Council (2015 including 2018 update)
- Good Medical Practice, General Medical Council (2013 with 2019 Update)
- Ethics Guidance for Occupational Health Practice 8th Edition, Faculty of Occupational Medicine (2018)
- Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and capability to work, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2019)
- Equality Act 2010
The Occupational Health Service provides a confidential service. This means that personal information is treated in medical confidence, and not passed on unless the employee gives consent. The exception to this is if information is passed on which is considered to pose a significant risk to health and safety of the individual or others. See below for more information on consent. All staff are made aware of the requirements and specifics of dealing with the type of information held in OHS.
Accountability and Responsibility
OHS staff are personally accountable for their actions and omissions in practice and must always:
- be able to justify their decisions
- act lawfully, whether those laws relate to their professional practice or personal life.
Implicit in all of the above is that people in the care of OHS must be able to trust us with their health and wellbeing.
Furthermore there is the need to;
- deliver care based on the best available evidence or best practice.
- provide a high standard of practice and care at all times
- make the care of people our first concern, treating them as individuals and respecting their dignity
- work with others to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of those in our care, their families and carers, and the wider community
Nurses being hindered in working within the code have a duty to act, and must inform someone in authority if they experience problems that prevent working within this Code or other nationally agreed standards.
Occupational health guidance requires patient consent to disclose reports to employers. The Occupational Health Service has a significant but difficult role when dealing with consent to disclose information to an individual’s employer.
Occupational Health Service employees are governed by professional rules; medical ethics guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and from the Nursing Midwifery Council - which require medical confidentiality.
Employers seeking medical reports from Occupational Health regarding their employees need to be aware that according to guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) it is good practice as a rule to seek a patient's express consent before disclosing medical information for purposes other than the provision of their care.
This privacy notice provides information about how the University collects and uses your personal information in relation to GDPR requirements.
Please see the Records Management website if you wish to make a Subject Access request for your personal data.
This article was published on 27 Aug, 2021