Fed chair welcomes new chief medical officer

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne says the appointment of a chief medical officer for policing was “not before time”.

He welcomed John Harrison to the role, which will see him deliver key elements of the Police Covenant.

Steve said: “It’s not before time that we have a chief medical officer to coordinate health in policing across all forces.

“For too long there have been inconsistencies from force to force in the physical and mental health support available to officers, and hopefully this will address medical standards.


Professor John Harrison


“It’s great to have John in the role, who brings to it years of experience in health and wellbeing in policing.

“It’s a really positive impact of the Police Covenant and I’m sure John’s passion for health in policing will make a real difference for our members.”

John brings with him nine years experience of being chief medical officer for Devon and Cornwall Police. He has also been senior medical adviser to the National Police Wellbeing Service.

He admitted one of his main challenges was ensuring consistent policies across 43 forces when each has its own priority.

John explained: “One of the key challenges I see is that all 43 different police forces come with their own set of priorities.

“One of my goals is to focus on pulling together a network of people to support and operationalise a national agenda, so all forces can roll out the same policies and ways of working.”

Police Covenant

The majority of John’s career has been spent working with the NHS, specifically as an occupational physician, using his core medical training to better understand ongoing issues in employment.

He said: “A priority will be to look at a standardised national approach to occupational health across all forces.

“It is a postcode lottery. The variation between what different forces offer is massive and there’s a huge amount of work that needs to be done in this area.

“I want to change the narrative around occupational policing, not only for our officers but so that we can recruit better too. I think the police is a very exciting place to work and I want to help other healthcare professionals see that.”

John said his priorities also included clinical governance, to make sure everything that was being done within the police surrounding the health of officers was done safely.

He said: “It’s so important that police forces are looking after their people properly. I’m here to not only help the organisation but to help officers too.

Chief Medical Officer

“I recognise it’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint but I’m confident we will get there.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) wellbeing lead Belinda Goodwin said having a ‘non-biased’ and ‘impartial’ chief medical officer who has a good understanding of both the health service and the police, was ‘amazing’.

She said: “John will be a great asset to us all.

“He’s very supportive of the police but also knows what he’s talking about from a healthcare perspective.

“John’s main priority will be to look at occupational health standards across the country, which is going to be huge for officers across all forces, nationwide.

“I see him bridging the gap between the health service and the police force, building those essential partnerships to ensure the physical and mental health of our officers is a priority for all forces.”

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