Fit for Work: the New Name for the Health and Work Service
The Government has announced that the Health and Work Service, due to be launched in late 2014, has been renamed Fit for Work. The name has been changed "to more accurately reflect the nature and impact of the service".
Fit for Work aims to help employers and employees manage sickness absence. Employees who have been absent from work on sick leave for four weeks will be provided with a work-focused occupational health assessment to help them to return to work as soon as possible. Employees will normally be referred by their GP, with the resulting return to work plan being shared with their employer.
At the same time the Government published the results of a study into the likely rate of referral by GPs to the assessment element of the new service and into factors affecting referrals. The report, Exploring future GP referral to Fit for Work , found that GPs were broadly supportive of the service and would refer 54% of patients they deemed suitable for assessment to Fit for Work. GPs considered that patients with longer fit notes and therefore off work for longer periods were more suitable for referral to the service. They would be less likely to refer patients "with a clear recovery path and who are likely to return to work in due course under their own steam."
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