Fit for Work service goes live across England

doctor-563428_1280We previously reported on the roll out of the Government’s Fit for Work service. Fit For Work is a new support service, the aim of which is to help people who would otherwise be absent on long term sick get back to work more quickly. From 22 July 2015, this service is now available across England.

The Fit for Work service takes a holistic or ‘biopsychosocial’ approach, which takes into account the full range of work, health, and non-health/non-work issues that are preventing a return to work.
Government statistics show that each year approximately 815,000 working people in England have a period of sickness absence lasting 4 weeks or more, and research indicates that without the appropriate support, many of these people will struggle to return to work. The service is also intended to help employers reduce the impact of long-term sickness absence on their business.

The new service, which is free, confidential and entirely voluntary, provides occupational health services to working people who have been, or are likely to be, off work for 4 weeks or more. Support from the Fit for Work service lasts for up to 3 months.

All GPs in England can now offer a referral to the service, which includes an in-depth assessment, development of a personalised Return to Work Plan, and managed support to get back to work. In addition, employers will be able to refer their employees to the service from the Autumn.

It is anticipated that the Fit for Work service will be particularly helpful for small and medium sized businesses where there is currently little or no employer occupational health support available. A recent YouGov poll estimated that only 31% of employees currently have access to occupational health services through their employer.

More information is available on the Fit for Work website (http://fitforwork.org/) and in the Guidance for employers produced by the DWP.

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