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NHS England, along with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH), will invest £70 million over the next four years to test different ways to support people with a disability or long term condition to get in and stay in work.
To kick-start this programme of work, NHS England, DH and DWP have announced that they will be working with Sheffield City Region and the West Midlands Combined Authority to develop trials that will test new ways of supporting people as they enter, re-enter and stay in work.
Sheffield City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority will receive financial investment as well as access to expert support to progress the design of their trials over the coming months.
The trials will focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions, the two conditions most commonly reported by those out of work.
Sheffield City Region are developing a trial that will test how the principles of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) could be expanded to support a broader range of patients, improve access to musculoskeletal services and improve local referrals between health and employment services.
West Midlands Combined Authority’s trial is looking to expand IPS services for those with severe mental health, as well as trialling IPS in new settings for those with more moderate mental health conditions and those with musculoskeletal conditions.
Simon Stevens, NHS England’s Chief Executive, said: “The evidence is now clear that early treatment for mental and physical health problems helps working age adults get and keep well-paying jobs, and this in turn positively improves their own health and social wellbeing. So for most people, health and work are a virtuous circle.
“The NHS has a major contribution to make to the health of working age adults and, as Europe’s largest employer, to the health of our 1.3 million staff. The NHS is also committed to helping catalyse action by other public and private sector employers to support their own employees’ health, in workplaces across the nation.”
Michael Macdonnell, NHS England’s Director of Strategy, said: “There are currently 4.8 million people of working age with a disability or long term condition who are out of work.
“We know that the right work can be good for health and wellbeing and support people to live happier and healthier lives, but first we need to understand how best to support people with health conditions and disabilities to return to or stay in work.
“We are very pleased to be working with Sheffield City Region and the West Midlands Combined Authority to help build this evidence and share what works with other local systems.”
Following review in December, trials will be initiated in 2017 and run for 2-3 years, with interim results after the first year to enable spread of successful services to other areas.
This work is connected to the Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper which looks at how best to provide employment support to individuals with health conditions and disabilities. The Green Paper will be published this afternoon on gov.uk.