Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence, Dame Carol Black and David Frost said: “We therefore recommend that the Government should fund a new Independent Assessment Service (IAS). The IAS would provide an in-depth assessment of an individual’s physical and/or mental function. It would also provide advice about how an individual taking sickness absence could be supported to return to work. It should be provided by approved health professionals, and be appropriately quality controlled. The service should usually be accessed when an individual’s absence spell has lasted around four weeks.” It is worth revisiting these words because, of course, this was the spark that led to the creation of a new Health and Work Service (HWS), for which the contractor, Health Management Limited, was announced by the Government at the end of July.Nic Paton summarises some of the industry responses to the introduction of the Health and Work Service (HWS) that is due to launch later this year. In 2011, in their groundbreaking government-commissioned review
Health and Work Service – what we know
- The service will cover England and Wales. In Scotland an HWS will also be created, but will be run by the Scottish Government on behalf of the UK Government.
- The winning contractor, Health Management Limited, is SEQOHS-accredited and is also a member of the Commercial Occupational Health Providers’ Association.
- The service will be expected to intervene at the fourth week of absence, with GPs expected to be the primary referrer, although employers will also be able to refer. It will be voluntary, and so will require the consent of the employee to be referred.
- Once referred, an employee can expect to be contacted and assessed, and a return-to-work plan provided. This plan will be shared with their employer and GP.
- The service will take a biopsychosocial approach and will be providing a return-to-work service rather than a full OH service. The service will also take a triaged, case management approach and, if appro