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Ministers challenged over Black response

The CSP is calling on ministers to explain why they have not made early intervention physiotherapy services the cornerstone of plans to help people with health problems to return to work.

The Society says it is disappointed by the lack of emphasis on effective physio self referral services in the government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s review of work-related ill health.

Ministers gave a green light in October to rolling out self referral systems around the country. But the response mentions physiotherapy self referral only briefly, on page 65 of a 112-page report.

CSP chief executive Phil Gray said: ‘Just a month ago, the Department of Health said in terms of prevention, early intervention and the improvement of the health of those out of work, self referral has the potential to be the cornerstone for all three areas.

‘We want to find out why early intervention physiotherapy and early intervention services by allied health professionals were not made a centrepiece of this announcement.’

In her report Working for a Healthier Tomorrow, published in March, Dame Carol highlighted the effective role physiotherapy can play in early intervention services, such as helping to prevent musculoskeletal disorders becoming chronic and allowing people to stay in or return to work. The government published its response to that review, Improving Health and Work: Changing Lives, last week.

It backs Dame Carol’s recommendation that ‘fit for work’ services should be piloted to support people on sickness absence to return to work. The pilots will test a range of models offering multidisciplinary support for people at risk of long-term sickness absence, including those with mental health conditions.

Bids will be invited to run pilot schemes, which could see applications coming from the NHS as well as independent and non-traditional or non-clinical settings.

Ministers have also given the go-ahead for electronic ‘fit notes’ to replace paper-based notes, as well as a national centre for working-age health and well-being, and a review of the health and well-being of the NHS workforce.

The CSP has welcomed the proposals overall as a way forward’ to support the relationship between health, work

and well-being. Mr Gray said ‘fit for work’ schemes were an important additional tool but the pilots would take

up to three years to produce results.

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