Higher Educational Occupational
Physicians / Practitioners




Documents from our Meetings

Executive and AGM minutes

Questionnaire examples



Sister Groups

Welcome to our website

HEOPS is the professional association for all occupational health (OH) professionals working in the UK higher education (HE) sector.

Our purpose is to develop and promote best practice in the provision of OH services in the HE sector.

HEOPS runs an active online discussion group on the National Academic Mailing List Service — 'JISCMail' to provide members with opportunities to share knowledge, expertise and opinion. We also holds bi-annual one day educational meeting for members.

HEOPS develops sector-specific policies and guidance on the control and management of health risks in the HE Sector. We assist national bodies, including the General Medical Council, Medical Schools Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Health and Care Professions Council and UCEA to develop their policies and guidance on fitness to practise, and on protecting and promoting the health of staff and students in their work and studies.

Membership is free and open to any Occupational Health Physician or OH Nurse providing services to a university, HE or further education college. To join HEOPS, contact the mailing list co-ordinator using the email address elizabeth.murphy2@nhs.net .

Universities have a wide range of occupations, varied occupational hazards (especially in research), and complex occupational health needs. Universities vary widely in size, subjects taught, and research areas. Therefore, their needs for occupational health provision vary. HEOPS offers guidance on the structure and staffing of occupational health provision within higher education.

In summary, the following recommendations are distilled from our guidance, which can be downloaded from this website:

  • All universities should have access to at least one specialist in occupational medicine and a specialist in occupational health nursing.

  • HEOPS recommends a staffing formula based on number of staff and students, with an adjustment for the relatively high occupational health demands from students.

  • Services should be managed by either a specialist occupational physician, or a specialist occupational health nurse.

  • Management scope should include management of staff, budget, professional responsibility for occupational health policy, accountability for the quality services, preparing an annual report of service activity and spending so that performance can be judged against agreed goals when setting annual budgets. Continuity of provision, sector and institution specific knowledge, access to the workplace and access to all institutional policies and procedures are important features of high quality OH services in the HE sector.

  • HEOPS recommends that the head of the service has a clearly-agreed “dotted line” reporting arrangement to the university Vice Chancellor (or equivalent) or Registrar (or equivalent) for any strategic matter affecting the health of university staff or students.

  • Whatever the line management structure, and regardless of whether the head of the service is employed in-house or is an external contractor, HEOPS recommends that the head of the service (or his or her representative) attends relevant university committees on, for example, health and safety, disability, welfare, student health, human resources, risk management.

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