Are you one of the 43% of firms who’ve had staff absent for more than 4 weeks?

Hopefully this isn’t you and everyone is in work today being very productive. If that’s not the case and you’re worrying about how to get staff back to work then it’s probably time to get in touch… 

We can offer a FREE needs analysis meeting to discuss all of your requirements and any of those tricky absence issues you may have!

We have a network of branches across the North West – Liverpool, Wirral, Lancaster, Wigan, Barrow, Garstang and Ellesmere Port – where we are able to hold appointments with clients.

  • To find out more about how FOHCUS can help, please contact our Merseyside team on 0151 601 2444 or our Lancashire/Cumbria team on 01524 844011 or email:
FOHCUS provides support to pupils and teachers

FOHCUS provides support to pupils and teachers

Leading occupational health provider FOHCUS is growing the amount of work it is doing in the education sector.

The company, which has seven offices across the North West, has a range of services for schools and teenage children.

An increasing number of schools are partnering with us to provide teachers, who are designated pupil mentors, with their own support.

The work of these teachers, often supporting pupils facing issues such as stress, anxiety, bullying or, in worst cases, abuse, is hugely demanding and can take its toll on the person with the designated responsibility.

Our specialists provide an outlet for staff to know that there is someone there for them to offload and to share ideas and strategies.

Several schools are now asking FOHCUS to provide a structured programme of support in which we come on site once or twice a month to support to teachers, mentors and those working in special educational needs.

Alongside the work we do with professionals, our sister company, JP Therapy, runs a popular programme of support for teenage children.

The adolescent support programme consists of four 1-1 sessions with teenagers. The aim is to provide parents with a fast, responsive service when they believe their child would benefit from hearing another voice outside of the home environment.

The ideal is always to engage with the child before a serious issue arises.

Most parents are familiar with the NHS’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for young people and their parents.

It is a vital service, but the reality is that there can be delays of up to nine months to gain an appointment on the NHS.

The service provided by JP Therapy is about giving families an alternative – one which can respond immediately to any urgent concerns that they might have.

The teenage years are tough and, given today’s social media obsessed world, probably tougher than ever.

There is a plethora of issues our specialist counsellors are experienced in dealing with. They include bullying, loss of a loved one, exam stress, loneliness and isolation and eating disorders.

Sometimes, the young people we see just want to discuss why they are finding themselves getting angry or overly anxious about something.

The adolescent support service we provide is not intended to replace CAMHS – we see it more as giving parents and their children a choice.

Families currently approach us direct, but we are talking to schools in our region about them sharing information regarding the service with their own parent communities.

We have a network of branches across the North West – Liverpool, Wirral, Lancaster, Wigan, Barrow, Garstang and Ellesmere Port – where we are able to hold appointments with clients.

  • To find out more about FOHCUS’s education services, please contact our Merseyside team on 0151 601 2444 or our Lancashire/Cumbria team on 01524 844011 or email:
Don’t ask your staff to become mental health experts

Don’t ask your staff to become mental health experts

It is a real positive that employers and society in general now talk openly about issues around mental health.

An ever-growing number of businesses are seeking the advice of specialists such as FOHCUS to put in place effective strategies that provide their staff with the right support when they need it.

The businesses benefit because they are taking active steps to manage the wellbeing of their employees creating happy and, in turn, more productive workers.

Mental health is the third biggest cause of absence in the workplace after stress and ill health. Alongside this, you have the issue of ‘presenteeism’ which, according to the Centre for Mental Health, accounts for 1.5 times more lost productivity than absences.

Mental health associated absences cost UK employers more than £25billion a year – equating to more than £1,000 per employee.

Some businesses now have their own mental health first aiders. Mental health first aid is the mental health equivalent of physical first aid. The objective is to have designated employees in your business with the skills and confidence to spot the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right support.

Those last few words about ‘guiding a person towards the right support’ are vital.

What a business must never do is place too much responsibility or expectation on the company’s mental health first aider.

They are not trained medical practitioners and therefore it is essential that the individual and the wider business appreciate exactly what the role of the mental health first aider is.

The job of the mental health first aider is to spot an issue and escalate it as necessary to the right people.

In the first instance, this could be to HR if such a function exists in the business. The next call should almost certainly be to the employee’s family and, if this is not possible, then to their GP or A&E.

Companies sometimes, wrongly, have the view that A&E is not an option if the person hasn’t suffered an accident, but it is absolutely the right option if you want to get the employee into the arms of medical professionals at the earliest opportunity.

Every business should have a mental health procedure just as we all have a fire drill process.

People panic when there is a potential mental health situation in the workplace and think they should do things that they are simply not trained to do. You wouldn’t treat someone who has suffered a broken ankle, so why treat someone showing signs of a mental health issue any differently.

The key is to put in place a robust mental health strategy in which everyone knows their role. Perhaps the most important element – and the one we work with most with employers – is line manager training.

They need to be confident in understanding what to look for and the right questions to ask.

For example, if someone who is usually the life and soul of the party suddenly changes personality, then it might be an early warning sign that something is not right.

Companies and organisations that put in place effective mental health strategies are reaping the rewards in lots of different ways.

This includes improved productivity, increased staff engagement, reduced presenteeism and sick leave, greater compliance with Government legislation, improved staff retention and, most importantly of all, a happier and healthier workforce.

  • For a free initial consultation about your company’s mental health strategy, please contact or call our Merseyside team on 0151 601 2444 or our Lancashire/Cumbria team on 01524 844011.

FOHCUS has seven offices across the North West region including Liverpool, Wirral, Lancaster, Wigan, Barrow, Garstang and Ellesmere Port – where we are able to hold appointments with clients.

Why employers use occupational health

Why employers use occupational health

Newly published research from two Government departments has highlighted the key reasons why businesses partner with occupational health (OH) providers.

The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care teamed up to conduct a survey of employers.

The ‘Employers’ Motivations and Practices’ survey showed that the situations in which OH was most commonly used were:

  • Supporting staff with mental or physical ill health;
  • Supporting a return to work;
  • Attracting and retaining talent;
  • Investigating under-performance or poor conduct;
  • Verifying medical statements or health surveillance.

The survey went on to reveal that the most common services for dealing with these situations were:

  • Counselling;
  • Physiotherapy;
  • Work station assessment;
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy;
  • Physical health screening or assessment.

The report also highlighted the reasons why employers were most likely to engage OH services. The three principal reasons were:

  • To comply with legal and regulatory requirements;
  • To reduce costs and improve business efficiency;
  • To support and improve employee health and wellbeing.

The research also showed that those employers which had invested in a long-term approach to occupational health were more likely to see the benefits of such a service and the implications in terms of enhanced productivity and improved employee wellbeing and happiness.

FOHCUS works with companies to put in place bespoke wellbeing plans from a clinician’s perspective.

We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work as every business has different requirements depending on the nature of their work and the sector in which they operate.

We have established ourselves as the North West’s leading provider of occupational health services with a simple and straightforward message.

Our team is here to work with organisations to ensure that their employees are healthy, safe and productive.

We work with a range of sectors including education, manufacturing, assembly, haulage, construction and high-tech, providing bespoke packages of care and advice, based on the needs of the employer and the requirement of its staff.

  • To arrange your free company health check, call 0151 601 2444 or email:

To read the ‘Employers’ Motivations and Practices’ report in full go to:

Tackling mental health in the workplace

Tackling mental health in the workplace

One of the most overused phrases in the workplace, and life in general, is “I’m feeling so stressed”.

Understanding what someone means when they say they are “stressed” is hugely important.

In some cases, “stress” is wrongly used by people who are facing a one-off deadline, perhaps a presentation to colleagues or a pitch for new business.

Twenty years ago, we would have simply referred to this as having “butterflies”.

The casual use of the “S” word is unhelpful when it comes to diagnosing those who really are suffering from a genuine form of stress.

Stress is dangerous when it is unrelenting and overwhelming, when someone feels every day brings more of the same and where there is no sense of successfully completing a task.

At FOHCUS, we have seen this in the teaching profession, in the NHS and in businesses where insufficient thought has been given to the wellbeing of employees.

The best way to tackle mental health in the workplace is to put in place the right policies and procedures and to ensure that line managers are sufficiently well trained to understand the signs that something isn’t right with a colleague – and to ensure they receive the necessary support and signposting to the correct health services.

For example, there is a considerable difference between someone feeling stress because of overwork and someone who is suffering from clinical depression, and therefore medically ill.

The solution is not to offer employees free gym memberships (these are invariably taken up by people who already go to the gym!) or to have mental health First Aiders in your business.

There are lots of other gimmicks that companies will try to sell into businesses to make them feel like they are taking a responsible approach to tackling mental health.

FOHCUS works with companies to put in place bespoke wellbeing plans from a clinician’s perspective.

This means ensuring that a business has a structured approach to wellbeing from the right pre-employment checks as part of a comprehensive health surveillance strategy through to the correct training and signposting of services.

Privately run businesses are not public services. Offering lunchtime yoga and pilates are “nice to haves” but the onus for exercising regularly, eating well and drinking in moderation are the responsibility of the individual, not the employer.

There are numerous benefits to putting in place the right wellbeing plan for a business. Most importantly, you are taking a proactive approach to ensuring your staff are in the best possible shape to work for you.

This should, in turn, help to make your company more productive. The right strategy should also encourage brand loyalty – helping to ensure high levels of employee happiness and staff retention.

Your employees are your most valuable assets. You would expect a company vehicle to have a pre-delivery check and, as a matter of course, an annual service. Why would you not give the same care and attention to your staff?

I am often asked what the difference is between “occupational health” and “wellbeing”. The answer is that traditional OH was reactive, intervening when a problem had already arisen, whereas wellbeing is a far more proactive and preventative form of OH.

The cost of not taking a proactive approach to mental health in the workplace can be hugely expensive and distracting for the business and the people who work for you.

But in setting a strategy, it is important to take a long-term view rather than implementing a couple of opportunistic, feel-good gimmicks.

FOHCUS in good health after acquiring Sage

FOHCUS in good health after acquiring Sage

An occupational health company is expanding its range of services following the acquisition of another leading North West provider.

Wirral-based FOHCUS has purchased Sage Occupational Health, which has its head office in Lancaster.

The acquisition will see Sage rebrand as FOHCUS with the combined business able to offer employers a comprehensive range of services to enable companies to ensure their workforces are as healthy and productive as possible reducing the costs associated with ill health, accidents and absenteeism.

Sage was founded in 2004 by Angela Tomlinson, the company’s Occupational Health Director. Angela will continue to work with clients, which include household names such as Lakeland and Siemens, under the FOHCUS brand.

FOHCUS was established in 2013 by Managing Director Adrian Mercer, who is also the owner of leading Merseyside physiotherapy and talking therapy company Joints and Points.

Adrian said: “The acquisition of Sage increases our footprint across the North West region and creates a combined business able to offer a complete range of occupational health solutions to both SMEs and large corporates.

“We are looking forward to working closely with our colleagues at Sage to provide a wider range services to both existing and new clients.

“The two businesses have a number of shared values including the importance of happy and healthy employees in helping an employer achieve their wider organisational and financial goals.”

Angela Tomlinson said: “The team at FOHCUS are a perfect fit for Sage and I look forward to working with Adrian over the coming months to promote the expanded business’s offering to clients in the North of England and elsewhere.”

In addition to offices in Wirral, Lancaster and Liverpool, FOHCUS also runs clinics in a number of locations across Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Staffordshire and Greater Manchester.