Long-term sick benefit from OH support

In her presentation, Norma Bennie, the NHS project director for incapacity benefit, outlined the progress being made by the NHS in a pilot project in Argyll & Clyde relating to the reform of incapacity benefits.

The pilot involves 11 Job Centre Plus offices working in partnership with the NHS.

Incapacity benefit claimants attend a work-focused interview with trained advisers and are given choices to help them to return to work, one of which is voluntary participation in a condition management programme led by healthcare professionals.

Quite a number of people on incapacity benefit would benefit from support back into work, Bennie explained, as research into the deterioration of health when on long-term sick leave has revealed.

Research by Argyll & Clyde into participants on the scheme found that 45% have no daily structure to their lives, leading to poor physical and mental health, and 41% would like to take part in a programme to return to work.

Bennie said 35% had lost confidence in their abilities owing to long-term leave, and 34% would prefer a phased return to work. She explained that the process is a short-term work-focused programme, which is customer focused and flexible. She stressed the process is not treatment-based but promotes self help with professional back-up.

Research is being carried out to analyse the results of the pilot but so far about 1,600 people have successfully returned to work and the pilot funding has been extended.

www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/consult/2002/pathways/


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