889 Development of national health surveillance policy for healthcare workers

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Abstract

Introduction

Health surveillance is a system of on-going health checks which allows early identification of ill health and identifies corrective actions needed. There are legislative requirements for health surveillance if risk assessments identify that employees are exposed to certain hazards at workplace. There is a current gap in a standardised health surveillance process and procedures for healthcare workers (HCW) at a national level. The aim of our project is to develop a national health surveillance policy for HCW to address this gap.

Methods

Full literature review was conducted to identify the international best practice pertaining to health surveillance in the healthcare setting. Current national legislations outlining the need for health surveillance were also reviewed. Relevant stakeholders including the National Health and Safety Function and national Policy Development team were consulted in the policy development. The Health Service Executive’s framework for national policy development was utilised. Drafts of the health surveillance were brought for broad consultations between external stakeholders.

Result

Based on the national legislations, a list of hazards requiring health surveillance was identified and categorised under physical/environmental, chemical and biological hazards. A draft policy describing standardised process and procedures of health surveillance for HCW in accordance to evidence-best best practice was developed and brought for further broad consultations.

Discussion

This is the first health surveillance policy for healthcare workers developed at a national level. In addition to identifying a list of hazards requiring health surveillance, the policy also outlines specific roles and responsibilities for health surveillance and a standardised process and procedures of health surveillance in a large healthcare organisation. The effectiveness of this national policy depends on how well it is communicated to all local service providers. Its effectiveness in fulfilling the current gap in the current legislations needs to be further evaluated.

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