Occupational Health (OH)

The Occupational Health (OH) service is provided by a third party, currently Optima Health, and managed by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HS&W) Department (part of the People Directorate). HS&W will monitor the service, liaise with regular users of the service, Health and Safety representatives and the OH provider to ensure a good and improving service.

OH considers the impact of work requirements upon an employee’s health by identifying areas where work may cause harm to employees’ health and providing advice to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) on how best to minimise and control these hazards.  OH also recommends amendments to the ways of working and the working environment to aid employees to remain in the workplace with existing or developing health conditions.

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CoronaVirus Provision

Opitma Health provides a wide range of services to NHSBT including:

  • Attendance management
  • Complex Case Service
  • Health and Wellbeing Initiatives
  • Health Assessment
  • Health Screening
  • Immunisations
  • Medical Advice Line
  • Physiotherapy
  • Pre-employment screening
  • Self Referral Service
  • Sharps Injuries and Blood Contact management (24/7/365)
  • The Wellbeing Zone

Please note if you do book an Occupational Health appointment there is a cost to the organisation for all appointments that are not attended. If for any reason you or the person you have organised the appointment on behalf of cannot attend, email rnhsbt@optimahealth.co.uk at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment to avoid this charge.


Contacting Occupational Health 

  • myOHportal.co.uk– online referral portal for managers to refer colleagues for an appointment. To access this you will need to request for an account to be set up by contacting HR Direct
  • Optima Health helpline – call 0330 008 5107 and OH experts will support you on all types of issues including health-related absences. Optima Health can also be contacted by email using rnhsbt@optimahealth.co.uk.
  • Sharpsline - call 0845 371 0572 if you have had a needle stick injury or contact with blood and require assistance. This service is available around the clock, every day.

Sharpsline Poster


Immunisations information

It is the policy of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is to ensure that colleagues are adequately protected against hepatitis B, and as appropriate, TB and other relevant transmissible infections. In addition, all new NHSBT colleagues who work with patients will undergo occupational health clearance to reduce the risk of transmission of TB, rubella, varicella and measles to patients.

Occupational Health carry out all immunisations and immunisation checks on behalf of NHSBT, except for hepatitis B vaccinations for colleagues within Blood Donation, which are undertaken by a qualified vaccinator within NHSBT. The same applies for the follow-up blood sampling.

All job roles which have contact with blood, organs, tissues or patients have been designated an immunisation requirement for either just hepatitis B or for the full NHS immunisation clearances (MMR, varicella, BCG).

This will be either ‘recommended’ or ‘discretionary’.

Full listing of the job role requirements can be found in the Immunisation Matrix

Flu Campaign information

Every autumn, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) offers all colleagues the opportunity to receive a free influenza vaccination, as a way to help prevent the illness from spreading amongst the workforce, to family and friends and also to patients and donors.

 See the Flu Campaign page for more details.

Occupational Health Plus

OH Advice Plus is a management referral service offered by Optima Health to help with the management of complex cases.

The benefits of OH plus have been identified as:

  • extended appointment time,
  • face to face or telephone
  • call between manager and OH Advisor (who will carry out the appointment with the individual) prior to the appointment,
  • additional help and support to progress difficult cases forward.

The call between the OH Advisor and the manager can only cover background information and cannot introduce new questions that the individual has not given consent to.

The time can be used immediately before or after the appointment or split between both if desired.

Examples of when an OH Advice Plus referral may be appropriate are:

  • no progress since last OH report and no return to work date in sight, following several months of absence;
  • last OH report gave wrong advice and has potentially hindered the case;
  • employee does not to understand or acknowledge their problems and so normal referral may result in them saying they are fine or being unrealistically positive;
  • condition is highly complex and not well known, hence no-one is really sure of prognosis or impact on work;
  • individual is in dispute with OH advice, or OH advice has contradicted GP or specialist advice;
  • panel meeting is expected, but current advice is not clear one way or the other about medium/long term prognosis.

The appointment is arranged with the manager, and they will need to let the employee know their appointment date and time (approx. 15 minutes after the start of the call with the manager).

Employees should be made aware of the nature of the referral and that the manager will be speaking with the OH Advisor in advance of the appointment

Optima Health will forward any OH Advice Plus referrals to authorised approvers prior to progressing the referral.

It is always advisable to add an HR Advisor as an ‘additional manager’ to any referral.

The service can be accessed under the ‘Performance and Attendance Management’ service line on the OH portal.

Physiotherapy access

Physiotherapy is available to all NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) colleagues if they need it.

If you fulfil the following criteria you are able to access physiotherapy quickly through our occupational health provider:

  • The injury has occurred within the last 6 weeks,
  • You are not receiving any treatment elsewhere (being on a waiting list is acceptable)
  • The injury is affecting your ability to complete your normal work.

The injury does not need to have been caused at work, so it could have happened whilst gardening, playing sports or even carrying your shopping.

To access the treatment, your manager needs to refer you via the Optima Health portal.

Physiotherapy is now available as a separate option on the portal, under the ‘Special Services’ stream.

For more support in completing the referral, please contact HR Direct.

Musculoskeletal Care information

Most people at some point have or will experience musculoskeletal pain, often referred to as a ‘twinge’, ‘sprain’, ‘pull’ or ‘putting something (e.g. Back) out’.  These can vary from minor inconvenience to requiring significant time off work, rest and recuperation, and can be extremely painful and debilitating.

Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by overuse and repetitive action which affects 33% of adults. It can result from injury and inflammation of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. This can be caused by jerking movements, car accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations, and direct blows to the muscle.  Existing medical conditions can also cause or contribute to musculoskeletal pain. 

Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) include:

  • Recurrent pain
  • Stiff joints
  • Swelling
  • Dull aches

They can affect any major area of your musculoskeletal system, including the following:

  • Neck
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Wrists
  • Feet
  • Hips
  • Legs
  • Knees

In some cases, the symptoms of MSDs interfere with everyday activities like walking or typing. You may develop a limited range of motion or have trouble completing routine tasks.

Your risk of developing MSDs is affected by:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • activity level
  • lifestyle
  • family history

Certain activities can cause wear and tear on your musculoskeletal system, leading to MSDs. These include:

  • sitting in the same position at a computer every day
  • engaging in repetitive motion
  • lifting heavy weights
  • maintaining poor posture

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has a wide range of Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work, providing ways of working with minimal risk of musculoskeletal injury. In addition, Manual Handling training is provided to all colleagues on a regular basis.  Colleagues are expected to make themselves aware of and adhere to all the safety documents relating to their area of work, and alert their Manager of anything preventing them from doing so.

NHS Blood and Transplant

A wide range of Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work are in place, and Colleagues are expected to comply with them, and alert their Manager of anything preventing them from doing so, or any areas of further improvement.

Manual Handling training is provided to all colleagues on a regular basis, either on line or face to face dependent upon job role.

Physiotherapy is available through the Occupational Health service.  For further details go to the physiotherapy page


 Taking care of yourself is an important factor in preventing injury and aiding rehabilitation from musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Regular exercise will help maintain good movement and muscle tone, helping posture. Exercise can also help weight control which will reduce the burden on your musculoskeletal system, and will be beneficial for back or knee pain in particular. Swimming, walking, Pilates and yoga are particularly good. Exercise should be done within your own capabilities and with advice from your GP as necessary.
  • A healthy diet is important to maintain a healthy body. Whatever you eat and drink can affect all aspects of your physical and mental health. Choosing foods that are good for bones and muscles will help. Eating foods containing high amounts of fat and / or sugar will make it harder to control your weight
  • Regular breaks – long periods of sitting or standing will put a strain on your musculoskeletal system. Taking regular breaks from your workstation will enable both your body and your mind to recover and be more productive and alert. Getting up and walking about, or doing some simple stretches and breathing exercises can give relief for stiff muscles ('Making a Difference’ document)
  • Varying muscle groups – similar to taking regular breaks, changing the muscles that you are using regularly will enable recovery when doing repetitive tasks. For example, if your job involves small hand movements and close eye work, changing to a task which involves large arm movements will help prevent repetitive strain injury.
  • Other things that can help – relaxation techniques

Health Assessment

Health assessments are a way in which we aim to protect the health and wellbeing of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) colleagues.

Some job roles involve potential health hazards, such as working in noisy environments or with hand cleansing chemicals, or could be dangerous if an episode of ill-health occurs, such as night working, or driving roles.

Consequently, health assessments are offered to all colleagues in roles which require it.

  • Driver medicals – offered to all colleagues who drive within Transport and Blood Donation as a way to ensure that there are no ill-health issues which might affect an individual, or potentially cause a safety incident whilst driving an NHSBT vehicle. There are two types of driver medical: the wellbeing medical for all drivers of NHSBT vehicles, which is an online questionnaire, followed by a further assessment if required, and the mandatory driver medical for Group 2 drivers, which is a medical with an OH Physician. Driver Medical Flowchart for information.

These can be accessed by management referral on the OH portal by selecting the ‘Fitness for Task’ service line. 

  • Night Worker Assessment – offered to all colleagues who regularly work at night. These should be offered before an individual starts working at night and annually thereafter.

The assessment is accessed by management referral on the OH portal by selecting the ‘Fitness for Task’ service line.

If there are any potential issues found on the online questionnaires you will be asked to attend a further assessment.

  • Hand Surveillance – mandatory checking of the hands of colleagues who regularly use hand cleansing products as part of their job role, such as Donor Carers.

A baseline check should be done when the individual first starts working in the job role, and then a check should be done every 6 months to monitor any changes in skin condition.

If issues are seen in between the mandatory checks, ad-hoc hand mapping forms should be completed, following the hand surveillance process and keeping the situation monitored regularly until the hands clear up.

Referral to occupational health should only be done if the hands do not clear up following a change of hand cleansing products or they clear up but then the symptoms return.

  • Audiometry Testing – this is offered to colleagues who work with very noisy equipment, such as bone grinders, for long periods of time.