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March 11, 2015

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Fit for Work service starts in Sheffield

The Fit for Work service is live and accepting referrals in Sheffield and Betsi Cadwaladr.

As of the 9 March, all GPs in Sheffield across Betsi Cadwaladr will be able to refer patients who have been off work for four weeks or more for an occupational health assessment, and health and work advice.

The Fit for Work scheme, a new, voluntary service was set up to help employed people who have been or are likely to be off work for four weeks or more due to sickness.

A Fit for Work telephone advice line (0800 032 6235) and website launched recently and will be complemented by the new referral service.

  • Fit for Work is voluntary and confidential – patients will need to consent to be referred to Fit for Work and for the Return to Work Plan to be shared with their GP and employer.
  • Fit for Work Return to Work Plan – the Return to Work Plan will signpost patients to services that will help them and provide a planned period to return to work and can act as a ‘Fit Note’. Each assessment and Return to Work Plan will deliver individually tailored advice for the employee, their employer and GP.
  • Fit for Work is not linked to benefit entitlement or work capability assessment – it offers an independent occupational health assessment and makes general health and work advice more accessible to employees, GPs and employers – participation is consent-based.

With individuals collectively estimated to miss out on £4bn a year through lost earnings, a service such as this offers a pragmatic approach, for those likely to find they are unable to return to work due to ill health. Fit for Work is impartial and has been designed to support people who are off sick in their current place of paid employment.

Further, several academic studies over the last few years have shown that being out of work for long periods of time is damaging to people’s social and financial well-being, and health.  They also show that the longer someone is off sick, the harder it is for them to get back to work.

Dr Mike Bewick, deputy medical director at NHS England said: “NHS England welcomes ‘Fit for Work’, as an opportunity to support people working in the England and Wales who currently have no access to expert occupational health advice. This service will help GPs provide holistic care to their patients, while reducing the pressure of ill health associated with managing people who become long term unemployed.”

Dr Lucy Goundry, clinical lead for the fit for work programme at Health Management Limited said: “GPs are under more pressure than ever to deliver complex services.  In such an environment, being able to support patients with high quality occupational health advice that takes a holistic approach will help patients.

“GPs have long called for such a service and we are delighted to be working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions to provide an independent referral service that will make occupational health services accessible to the wider working population as well as provide a vital line of support for GPs in Sheffield.”

Employers will be able to refer their employees in the autumn once the roll out for GPs has been completed.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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