The NHS Employers, the organization representing NHS employers in England, has published a crucial document titled "Work Health Assessments Standard". This standard provides comprehensive guidance for assessing the health of healthcare workers. This article aims to summarize the key points of this document, emphasizing its importance for occupational health nurses and doctors.

What is a Work Health Assessment for Healthcare Workers?

A work health assessment involves processes undertaken to evaluate whether an individual is suited for a specific role and working environment. The primary purpose of this assessment is to prevent work-related illnesses, injuries, and the spread of disease or infection. By conducting these assessments, healthcare organizations can ensure that employees are fit for their roles, thereby safeguarding both staff and patients.

Pre-Employment Checking

Pre-employment checks are essential to verify that an individual meets the prerequisites for the role they are applying for. The NHS Employment Check Standards outline the types and levels of checks employers must carry out before recruiting staff into NHS positions. These checks are crucial in ensuring that candidates are capable of performing their duties without posing a risk to themselves or others.

Scope of the Work Health Assessment

The extent of the work health assessment depends on the requirements and risks associated with the role. It considers the impact on the health and well-being of both the individual carrying out the role and any patients they may come into contact with. This tailored approach ensures that the specific needs and potential risks of each position are adequately addressed.

Importance of Work Health Assessments

Work health assessments are vital for several reasons:

  • Duty of Care: Employers have a legal duty of care to their employees, ensuring that workplaces comply with health and safety obligations and equality laws. This includes making reasonable adjustments to accommodate health conditions or disabilities.

  • Early Identification: These assessments help employers identify and address any health conditions or disabilities early on. This proactive approach can involve making necessary adjustments to the workplace, enabling individuals to safely and effectively carry out their duties.

Employment Check Standards

There are six employment check standards that employers must undertake as part of their recruitment processes. These standards ensure that all necessary health, safety, and suitability checks are conducted before an individual begins working in the NHS. These standards are:

  1. Identity Checks: Verifying the identity of the individual.
  2. Professional Registration and Qualifications Checks: Ensuring the individual has the necessary qualifications and professional registrations.
  3. Employment History and Reference Checks: Reviewing the individual's employment history and obtaining references.
  4. Work Health Assessments: Evaluating the individual's health to ensure they are fit for the role.
  5. Right to Work Checks: Confirming that the individual has the legal right to work in the UK.
  6. Criminal Record Checks: Conducting background checks to ensure the individual is suitable to work in a healthcare environment.


The "Work Health Assessments Standard" by NHS Employers is a critical document for ensuring the health and safety of healthcare workers. It provides a structured approach to evaluating the fitness of prospective and current employees, thereby maintaining high standards of care within the NHS. By adhering to these guidelines, healthcare organizations can protect their workforce and patients, ensuring a safe and efficient working environment.

While there are many international standards for pre-employment medical assessments, the NHS Employers' "Work Health Assessments Standard" is one of the most recognized and widely used in the UK healthcare sector.

For more information about this standard document or guidelines, please visit: NHS Employers