Occupational health included as key part of benefits pilot

The Government is to pilot schemes whereby people on sickness benefits have meetings with healthcare professionals, including occupational health nurses, “to address barriers to work”.

The two-year pilot will see individuals who receive Employment and Support Allowance being required to attend regular meetings with OH nurses and therapists, or risk losing their benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has estimated that 3,000 people on Employment and Support Allowance who have been assessed as being able to work in the future will come under the remit of the pilot schemes.

One pilot will sit people down with doctors, occupational health nurses and therapists while two others will see people being offered extra support from Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers. They will then be compared to see which is the most effective.

Mark Hoban, the Government’s employment minister, said: “The help we give people at the moment tends to focus on work-related skills, but doesn’t necessarily address health problems.

“But by giving people regular support from doctors, occupational health nurses and therapists, we can do more to help people manage or improve their conditions.”

The pilots are set to begin in November 2013 and will run until August 2016. They will involve only people on Employment and Support Allowance who are expected to be able to return to work in 18 months or more, the Government added.

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