New health service is launched in county

Referrals have begun for a new government support service – designed to help workers facing long-term sickness absence return to their jobs more quickly – which has gone live across Northumberland.

The free, voluntary and confidential service, known as Fit for Work, will provide 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.

It means that all GPs in Northumberland 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.

Patients will then benefit from an in-depth consultation, followed by a personalised Return to Work Plan tailored to their needs and support to get back to their job. Employees can also speak to their GPs to request a referral to the service.

Rosamond Roughton, director of NHS Commissioning, said: “This 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.”

For more details, visit www.fitforwork.org or call the advice line on 0800 032 6235.