There are currently 719 health trainers recruited to the programme. It is anticipated that there will be 1,200 health trainers in spearhead areas by the end of financial year 2006-07.
“Choosing Health” money in the sum of £36 million has been allocated to primary care trusts for this purpose. However, it is up to individual PCTs to make decisions about where they allocate resources and how many health trainers they will need to meet the needs of their local population.
The employment requirements are that health trainers satisfy the mandatory core competencies supplied by the Department. The core competencies, developed by Skills for Health with the Department, were finalised at the end of the early adopter phase, which finished on 31 March 2006. Health trainer training is agreed and implemented at a local level.
Formal accreditation is being developed with awarding bodies and should be in place in the first half of 2007.
No formal assessment has been made of the effectiveness in improving health of the “Choosing Health” 10-year strategy for pharmaceutical public health. However, there are many examples of pharmacy’s valuable contribution, including through improving access to sexual health services, increasing uptake of stop smoking services and better services for substance misusers.
The “Choosing Health” White Paper published in November 2004 commits to the development of evidence-based guidelines in occupational health (section 7.38).
The Department has a project in hand to develop such evidence-based guidelines, which will help NHS Plus occupational health units raise the quality, standards and consistency of their work.
The first NHS Plus guideline, “occupational aspects of the management of chronic fatigue syndrome: a national guideline” was published in October 2006.
The following guidelines are currently under development and we plan to publish these during 2007:
the management of latex allergies in the workplace;
the identification and management of infected food handlers;
the management of expectant mothers undertaking shift work and manual handling; and
the management of chicken pox and shingles in the workplace.
In addition, NHS Plus sponsored the development of a new guideline on the identification of alcohol problems in the workplace in July 2007. This guideline is planned for publication in 2008.