Video: CSP professional adviser Leonie Dawson and physio Judith Pitt-Brooke introduce the AHP advisory fitness for work report. Find further information below
The Fitness for Work paper is aimed at all physiotherapists treating working age people, and encourages them to consider how they can support patients in returning to work after a period of sickness or staying at work.
Government policies aimed at increasing the number of people in work, including welfare reform and the rise in pension age, are increasing the need to manage long-term conditions and co-morbidities in the workplace.
The social, economic and psychological benefits of remaining in employment and its effect on an individual’s physical and mental health are discussed in the CSP paper.
‘The Fitness for Work paper presents a real opportunity,’ said CSP professional adviser Jenny Nissler. ‘It is relevant to all physiotherapists who work in services that see people of working age, not only those trained in occupational health. It also gives guidance about recognising where referral to a specialist colleague is appropriate.
‘The aim is to help physios to effectively include the person’s work as an outcome of the overall treatment plan.’
The paper will also help to increase awareness of the Allied Health Professions (AHP) Advisory Fitness for Work report, introduced by the AHP Federation last summer.
The AHP Fitness for Work report was designed to complement the GP’s fit note. It enables physios to communicate directly with GPs and employers, with patient consent, on practical solutions to get them back to work, or if need be to sign them off in the short term.
Stuart Palma, CSP professional adviser, said the AHP report was being used. ‘But it could be used more,’ he said.
He recognised the practical concerns members may have over incorporating more paperwork into already full workloads.
‘But using the report to support people in work is something we really need to grasp as a profession. It is part of integrated care, so this is a real opportunity for the profession.’
He said it would mainly be used by outpatient physios, but could also be used on inpatient wards.
Mr Palma said: ‘The advisory note can be used by any physiotherapist who has the skills and competence to complete the report. It will probably be used by mainly by outpatient physios but could be used across inpatient wards too. It is a two page form, which can be completed online or printed out and shared with the patient and GP. I would encourage all physios to use it when they can.’
Ms Nissler added: ‘Becoming competent in the use of the AHP report will help physiotherapists expand their individual scope of practice in this area.’
In a related development, a tender process is currently open for a new Health and Work Service, covering England, Wales and Scotland, which will offer non-compulsory medical assessments to identify issues preventing an employee from returning to work, and advice and signposting to support them to achieve a successful return to work.