The Government have confirmed that following low referral rates, the national fit for work referral scheme will be scrapped in England and Wales on 31st March 2018 and on 31st May in Scotland.
Fit for work is a Government funded initiative that was implemented in 2015 with the hope of providing support to individuals in work with health conditions.
The service is made up of two main elements:
(1) Advice Service
(2) Referral and Assessment Service
It is the latter that has to be abolished, employers and GPs will continue to have access to the advice service.
A study that was conducted by the GP Magazine identified that 65% of GPs had failed to refer a single patient to the fit for work service due to lack of publicity.
The abolishment of the Fit for Work scheme came after the Government released its ambitious proposals to get one million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years.
Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability produced a report which sets out how the Government will work alongside employers, charities, healthcare providers and local authorities to ‘break down’ employment obstacles for disabled people and those with other health issues.
“Everyone should be able to go as far as their talents can take them, but for too long disabled people and people with health conditions have been held back from getting on in work.”
“Today we’ve set out an ambitious 10-year strategy to end this injustice once and for all. By bringing employers, the welfare system and health services together we’re taking significant steps to ensure everyone can reach their potential.” Said David Gauke, Work and Pensions Secretary.
In addition, the Government have confirmed that all 40 recommendations made in the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health will go ahead, as well as a reform of statutory sick pay and large organisations will see the introduction of a voluntary system that will allow them to report mental health and disability within their business.
Rachel Suff of the CIPD stated: “We welcome the broad acceptance the recommendations made in the Stevenson/Farmer review and the Matthew Taylor Review of good work designed to improve not only how employers recruit, but progress the careers of, people with a disability or health condition. By encouraging greater transparency and better reporting of action taken as suggested, Government can help inspire wider change in employer practice.
“Proposals such as reforming statutory sick pay to facilitate flexible working and expanding fit note certification to other healthcare professionals will need further development work and legislative change. We welcome the fact that the Government is taking the time to research and demonstrate a sound evidence base on other proposals, such as determining what incentives could motivate employers to invest in people’s health.”
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