Fed welcomes appointment of Police Covenant chief medical officer

Dyfed Powys Police Federation has welcomed the appointment of chief medical officer to help deliver key elements of the Police Covenant.

Professor John Harrison is taking on the role and brings with him years of experience, nine of which have been working with Devon and Cornwall Police as their chief medical officer. 

Branch chair Gareth Jones said: “Obviously, having a medical officer who has experience in policing is to be welcomed.

“We want to see progress made around the physical and mental health of our members so this is an important step.

“The levels of support officers receive for their physical and mental health currently vary from force to force and hopefully this role within the Police Covenant will drive change and bring some uniformity across the service nationally.”

Prof Harrison acknowledged his main challenge will be ensuring consistent policies across 43 Forces when each has its own priority.

He said: “When it comes to national consistency, that’s the problem.

“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.”

Professor John Harrison

He continued: “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.”

Prof Harrison’s appointment comes shortly after the Police Covenant revealed their latest priorities includes, to scope the current support in place in relation to healthcare pathways for the police workforce through further NHS Engagement.

The majority of his 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 his priorities also included clinical governance and making sure everything done within the police surrounding the health of officers was carried out safely.

“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,”  he said.

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