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Welsh businesses ‘wasteful’ with ineffective workplace health initiatives

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NEW poll finds 73% adults in Wales think occupational health is important but just 12% believe some current workplace health & wellbeing services important

Ill health cost £10.6 billion to UK businesses in 2018-19, with 1.7 million suffering work-related health conditions in 2020-21

Business leaders urged to be more strategic and seek occupational health expertise

Businesses must urgently shift away from a reactive “DIY” culture when it comes to workplace health and seek expert occupational health guidance to avoid wasting time and resources, according to a new survey.

A YouGov survey launched during Occupational Health Awareness Week (19-24 June 2022) found only a fraction of adults in Wales believe the health and wellness measures many businesses currently choose for employees are important, which experts believe is likely due to employers mismatching health and wellbeing services to employee needs and not sourcing relevant or appropriate service providers.

73% of survey respondents said that occupational health is important and 73% also reported that they do or would find occupational health services in the workplace useful, but only a fraction thought that specific interventions were important. Access to health and wellbeing advice (13%) and counselling services (11%) rated low in importance for employee health among those surveyed, suggesting that businesses urgently need professional occupational health guidance to better meet employee needs and to source specialist service providers.

Throughout the UK, including Wales, companies often source their own health and wellbeing programmes without an occupational health strategy or the input of an occupational health practitioner. In April, CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that 87% of organisations offer employee health and wellbeing services but only 50% have a strategy, with 46% declaring that they do not have a formal plan and act on an ad-hoc basis.

Launching the YouGov survey, experts at the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) warned that companies who provide occupational health programmes without professional advice may be wasting time and resources.

Dr Jayne Moore, President, Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) said:

“From reducing absences to improving business performance, we have clear evidence that occupational health services make a significant difference. Looking at the survey results, it’s clear that employers are not making the most of occupational health expertise and are failing to provide what employees actually want and need.

“A reactive DIY approach to occupational health, which we know is prevalent among businesses in the UK, is wasteful and ineffective. Companies of all sizes should use professional occupational health guidance to develop a clear workplace health strategy in the boardroom and steer how they invest in employee health services.”

According to HSE statistics from 2020-21, 1.7 million workers were suffering from new or long-standing work-related health conditions, with 800,000 of these being work-related mental health issues and 500,000 being musculoskeletal disorders.

Pre-Covid-19 (2018-19) HSE statistics showed that workplace-related illnesses cost £10.6 billion to the UK, while injury cost £5.6 billion in the same period. In April 2022, Deloitte found that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £56 billion a year.

Alan Ballard, Chair of the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) said:

“From mental health to menopause, occupational health doctors and nurses have a wealth of experience and specialist knowledge that is currently underutilised by much of the private sector.

“Many business leaders feel like they are fire-fighting health issues as they arise, so bringing in an occupational health expert to assist with a more strategic, proactive approach will take that constant pressure out of their hands.

“Companies that take on a bespoke health and wellbeing strategy in collaboration with an occupational health provider will see improved employee health and a better bottom line.”

The YouGov survey also demonstrated that employees want workplace health to be led from the top. Key factors for employee health were work-life balance (71%), good management and leadership (62%), and good workplace culture (55%).

Lord David Blunkett, Patron of the Society of Occupational Medicine, remarked:

“It is encouraging that an increasing number of companies are investing in workplace health and wellbeing services, but employers need to ensure that their occupational health offering is effective and meaningful.

“By seeking professional guidance from an occupational health expert, business leaders can adopt a more strategic and impactful approach to improving employee health, and maintain reliability and ability to stay in the job.”

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Health

Tenby mass vaccination centre temporarily closed due to Long Course Weekend

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TENBY’S mass vaccination centre will be temporarily closed on Saturday 2 July and Sunday 3 July due to the Long Course Weekend.

The vaccination centre, located at Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ, will be open Friday 1 July between 10am and 7.30pm for drop-ins.

Other locations are open over the weekend, including Haverfordwest’s mass vaccination centre at the Pembrokeshire Archives (SA61 2PE) which is open for drop-ins between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Saturday 2 July and between 10:00am – 7:30pm on Sunday 3 July.

Tenby mass vaccination centre will continue to operate its regular opening hours of Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00am – 7.30pm the following weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

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Health

Reminder for people to get their spring booster in Wales

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PEOPLE eligible for the spring COVID-19 booster are being urged to get vaccinated before the cut-off date of Thursday 30 June.

Since late March, people aged 75 and over, care home residents, and anyone aged 12 or over who is immunosuppressed have been able to get their spring booster to increase their level of protection against COVID-19.

By taking up the offer of a spring booster now, this allows a sufficient interval between doses, if they are deemed eligible by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an autumn 2022 booster.

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a COVID-19 infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days (4 weeks) from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June if they have to postpone their appointment.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“Our high vaccination rates are really encouraging and every vaccination helps people to maintain high levels of protection from COVID-19.

“If you have been offered a spring booster vaccination then please make the effort to arrange your appointment before the 30 June cut-off and continue to keep Wales safe.”

Parents and guardians are also encouraged to check when their children aged 5 to 11 are due their next vaccination.

If a child has recently had COVID-19 when they were offered their vaccination in the early spring, they will be able to be vaccinated after 12 weeks.

Any child who has had their first dose, is encouraged to take up the offer of their second dose before the start of the autumn school term.

We are also encouraging students to complete their full course of two doses before returning to university and college in September to make sure they are as protected as possible.

Check your local health board for full details of how to get vaccinated – https://gov.wales/get-your-covid-19-vaccination

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Health

Drugs warning: Two hospitalised after taking antidepressant Amitriptyline 

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POLICE OFFICERS in Haverfordwest are warning that taking prescription drugs not prescribed to you can be dangerous after two youths needed medical attention.

The youths, from the Haverfordwest area, were taken to hospital overnight, Friday 24th June and  Saturday 25th June, after taking a prescribed drug, believed to be Amitriptyline.

Police are urging anyone who has been offered the medication not to take it as the side effects could be serious.

Inspector Reuben Palin said: “We are aware of youths using prescription drugs not prescribed to them. We believe the youths had been in each other’s company. Like all drug abuse, using prescription drugs for the wrong reasons has serious risks for a person’s health.


“We would appeal to anyone who becomes unwell to seek medical attention immediately.


“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”

To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/. Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.

In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.

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