Britain failing to properly rehabilitate sick workers

TUC
and ABI call for a shift in focus from the claim to the patient itself

Delays
in treatment, a lack of resources and a disjointed approach has resulted in
Britain lagging behind most other industrialised nations when it comes to
rehabilitating sick or injured workers, the TUC and Association of British
Insurers have warned.

The
two bodies have come together to set out a national action plan to revive the
UK’s rehabilitation services.

They
are urging the Government, employers and insurers to shift the main focus from
damages to getting a claimant back to health as soon as possible.

The
current adversarial system of deciding negligence needs to be replaced with a
more consensual approach, to reduce delays in getting the injured person
referred for treatment, they argue.

Similarly,
the Government needs to co-ordinate and promote rehabilitation services, while
more research is carried out to make a solid case for rehabilitation.

Research
by the Work Foundation, for instance, has found that, while the majority of
employers do have written policies on rehabilitation, they are hamstrung by the
attitudes of line managers, the limited capacity of the NHS and resistance from
employees.

It
is estimated that some 3,000 workers every week move from long-term sickness absence
on to incapacity benefit.

John
Parker, the ABI’s head of general insurance, calculated about 27,000 workers
leave the workplace because of ill-health every year, and never return.

"Insurers
have done much to embrace rehabilitation, but more needs to be done by all
interested stakeholders," he said.

TUC
general secretary elect Brendan Barber called for the introduction of a
national rehabilitation service, something that had been in the original
blueprint of the NHS but never implemented.

"Working
in partnership, we can use the legal and insurance systems to offer a
fast-track back into work, not a slow exit from the workforce," he added.

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