Dame Carol Black review proposals met with caution by health professionals

Dame Carol Black described her report as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to make a real difference, but employers, unions and health professionals were cautious as to whether her proposals could ever become a reality.

The Society of Occupational Medicine said a Fit for Work service would need to be led by OH doctors and be adequately funded. SOM president Dr Gordon Parker said a further 1,800 OH doctors would be needed to provide a properly co-ordinated service.

Professor Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser to the manufacturing body EEF, said the proposals were “a major step forward in tackling unnecessary sickness absence” and welcomed the emphasis on fit or well notes.

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health president Ray Hurst said: “We hope it marks the beginning of a ‘sea-change’ in attitudes to preventing ill-health.”

But construction union UCATT said the report had overlooked the issue of self-employed workers, which make up a large proportion of that industry.

CIPD employee relations adviser Ben Willmott said employers would be looking for a “swift and positive” response from the government.

The British Medical Association warned that reform of the sicknote system must not make GPs become “a policing arm of the Department for Work and Pensions”.

And the TUC argued Black’s emphasis on the need for “good work” would only happen “if the government clamps down on employers who exploit their staff through bad conditions, long hours or stressful workloads”.

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