A new scheme has been launched to help staff facing long-term sickness return to their jobs quicker.
Referrals are being taken for the voluntary Fit for Work, which provides the services of occupational health professionals to employed people if they have been, or are likely to be, off work for four weeks or more due to illness or related issues.
GPs in North Tyneside will be able to refer their employed patients who have been off work for a long period of time to the service, with their consent.
Rosamond Roughton, director of NHS Commissioning, said: “NHS England welcomes ‘Fit for Work’ as an opportunity to support people working 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.”
Within two working days of a referral, the worker concerned will receive an in-depth consultation with an occupational health professional who will create a Return to Work Plan, containing steps and advice.
Dr Lucy Goundry, clinical lead for the Fit for Work programme at Health Management Limited, which will deliver the new service, said: “GPs have long called for such a service and we are delighted to be able to provide an independent referral service that will make occupational health support accessible to the wider working population as well as provide a vital line of support for GPs.”
The Fit for Work referral service is complemented by a telephone advice line and website. For more call 0800 032 6235 or visit www.fitforwork.org