Leeds OHAS work in primary care
Much of the work of Leeds OHAS is providing advice and support to primary care patients who are referred to our service by their GP. Nurses, physiotherapists, and counsellors also refer but to a lesser degree. Patients can be referred from all Leeds PCT practices and are seen either in their own practice or at our offices in the centre of Leeds.
GP Patient Referrals
GP patient referrals enable Leeds OHAS to provide specific guidance, advice, and assistance where necessary, to patients with an existing work related health problem. The service is available to all GPs in the Leeds area, regardless of whether or not surgery sessions are being carried out in their practice by Leeds OHAS. Patients may be referred to Leeds OHAS by their GP in a variety of ways, as follows:
- The GP can refer patients to the previously mentioned surgery based sessions;
- Patients from the four practices where Leeds OHAS are currently delivering locality based Occupational Health advice sessions are seen in their own practice.
- Patients from surgeries where Leeds OHAS have worked in the past may be referred to Leeds OHAS offices, allowing continuation of the referral service for GPs in surgeries where Leeds OHAS are not currently working.
A follow up report detailing the outcome of each patient referral is provided to the GP by the Leeds OHAS advisor, regardless of where the referral took place.
An evaluation of certain aspects of the work undertaken by Leeds OHAS was carried out by the Centre for Health Promotion at Leeds Metropolitan University in 2000, funded by Leeds Health Action Zone. The findings from the evaluation revealed very positive results from patients and GP’s with regard to the work carried out by Leeds OHAS (LMU, Tilford, Errington & Nicholds 2000).
Sixty percent of respondents involved in the patient survey rated their interview with the occupational adviser as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, with sixteen percent of respondents stating that changes had been made in their working environment as a result of the interview. Additionally, 91% of GP’s taking part in the evaluation rated the benefit of Leeds OHAS to patients and themselves as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. The LMU report concluded, “There is clear evidence that the project is valued highly in the practices where it has worked”. The report also added that the achievements of Leeds OHAS were to be highly commended.
A second evaluation was carried out in 2003 by a student researcher from Leeds Metropolitan University (Brown 2002). The aim of the study was to determine whether the service provided by Leeds Occupational Health Advisory Service to GP referred patients, was effective in improving the outcomes of work-related health problems. The evaluation showed the following key findings:
- 75% of patients stated that in their opinion, the referral to Leeds OHAS prevented their symptoms from deteriorating further.
- 28% of patients who took sickness absence reported that their referral to Leeds OHAS enabled them to return to work earlier
- 30% of respondents stated that their referral resulted in positive action being taken in their workplace to improve health and safety.
- 55% of responses said that their referral reduced their visits to their GP.
- 82% of respondents stated that their referral helped them to cope better with their symptoms
- 87% were made to feel more confident about addressing their health problems.
A number of surveys have been carried out amongst GPs who have used the services of Leeds OHAS. The results of these surveys showed that in nearly every case GPs believed that the service was very helpful to themselves and their patients. Additionally, more than 25% of GPs stated that the Leeds OHAS service reduced patient consultations with those suffering with work related ill-health.