Advising Patients About Work by FfB43W


									Petra Clayton 22/9/9

Patients and work
  Did you know?

       “Recent evidence suggests that work can be good
        for health, reversing the harmful effects of long-
        term unemployment and prolonged sickness
        absence. Yet much of the current approach to the
        treatment of people of working age, including the
        sickness certification process, reflects and
        assumption that illness is incompatible with being in
        work” (Dame Carol Black 2008)

       "Most people with common health problems can be
        helped to return to work by following a few basic
        principles of healthcare and workplace
        management. This can be done with existing or
        minimal additional resources, and is low cost or
        cost-neutral. Policy should be directed to
        persuading and supporting health professionals and
        employers to implement these principles.” (VR
        Review 2008
                                                     Ref RCGP

Petra Clayton 22/9/9

Advising Patients About Work

 GPs are in a unique position to provide patients with evidence-based
                          advice about work
For most adults of working age, including people with disabilities and many common health
problems, there is strong evidence1 that (return to) work:
• promotes recovery and aids rehabilitation
• improves physical and mental health and well-being
• reduces social exclusion and poverty

The beneficial effects of work generally outweigh any risks of work

There is strong evidence1 that long periods out of work can cause or contribute to:
• higher consultation, medication consumption and hospital admission rates
• 2 to 3 times increased risk of poor general health
• 2 to 3 times increased risk of mental health problems
• 20% excess mortality

The longer anyone is off work, the lower their chances of getting back to

Sickness certification is a major clinical intervention with potentially serious long-term

Two-thirds of sickness absence, long-term incapacity and ill-health retirement is now due to
‘common health problems’ – mild/moderate mental health, musculoskeletal and cardio-
respiratory conditions. Much of this should be preventable.4

Common health problems can often be accommodated at work, if necessary with appropriate
adjustments and support.5

Planning and supporting return to work, in partnership with patients, are important parts of
clinical management.2

1. Waddell G, Burton AK. Is work good for your health and well-being? London: TSO, 2006.
2. The health and work handbook. Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of General Practitioners, Society of Occupational
Medicine, London.
3. IB204: Medical evidence for statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay and social security incapacity benefit purposes - a guide for
registered medical practitioners.
4. Waddell G, Aylward M. The scientific and conceptual basis of incapacity benefits. London: The Stationery Office, 2005.
5. Managing sickness absence and return to work: An employers’ and managers’ guide. London:HSE, 2004

Resources for patients:
1. Health & Work – a self-help booklet for patients.
2. Off work sick and worried about your job? – an HSE booklet for patients.

Petra Clayton 22/9/9

Useful Websites/ Courses
Working for Health

Department of Work and Pensions health and work website

Waddell and Burton work and health leaflet links

Royal College of Surgeons Link

Faculty of Occupational Medicine competency website

RCGP Health and Work in General Practice Course


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