Dame Carol Black’s long-awaited report on the health of the working-age population will finally be published on Monday (17 March).
Previous speculation had suggested workplace health tsar Black would make some radical suggestions in the report. A National Health at Work service, a Royal College of Workplace or Occupational Health, and ‘health passports’ for everyone of working age, were all believed to have been under serious discussion within Whitehall.
But in an interview with Personnel Today’s sister title Occupational Health, Black hinted the final report would be more cautious.
Black said she found it unacceptable that the NHS “had no way of dealing effectively and efficiently with the conditions that take people out of work or keep them persistently out of work”. Although sickness absence is rarely caused by killer diseases such as heart disease or cancer, Black said: “One has to ask why these problems aren’t dealt with efficiently at an earlier stage.”
The report proposes new pilot projects to provide evidence of the need for new types of occupational health (OH) support for smaller companies.
A new Fitness for Work pilot scheme to provide OH support, under the NHS banner, could extend access to OH to more employees in small to medium-sized companies and even to the self-employed.
The review also recommends a bigger role for GPs in getting people back to work introducing government incentives to encourage firms to invest in OH and a voluntary code of practice for employers.