Physio develops award-winning ‘Talking Work’ guide for GPs

A physiotherapist has developed an award-winning guide that aims to help GPs to have work related discussions with their patients.


The guide provides guidance about how GPs can discuss work and work modifications with patients

Devdeep Ahuja, clinical director of RTW Plus in London, developed the Talking Work Guide, which the Council for Work and Health commissioned.

The guide offers a checklist for GPs that provides guidance about how to integrate conversations about work and work modifications into their daily practice.

Dr Ahuja told Frontline: ‘One of the issues which regularly came up in discussions with colleagues was the lack of proactive management of sickness absence and return to work support within GP services.

‘The issues around lack of skill, confidence and time from GPs to have work related conversations is well documented in literature.

Physiotherapist Devdeep Ahuja developed the award-winning guide

‘So when an opportunity arose to work with the Council for Work and Health and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to develop guidance for GPs about how to have proactive work-related conversations with their patients, it was too good to miss.’

The guide’s checklist includes advice on issues such as

  • issuing fit notes to patients
  • the use of realistic positive language when discussing a diagnosis
  • avoiding the use of catastrophic or alarming words, which could make a patient think they should not continue to work
  • identifying red flag medical issues that may result in injury or harm if a patient returns to work, or affect their ability to do their job duties
  • encouraging communication between patients, employers and other relevant stakeholders

Vocational rehab award

Following publication of the guide, Dr Ahuja won the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA) Innovation, Research and Education Award in recognition of his work on the project.

He received the award at the Good Work for Good Health Joint Symposium, held in Birmingham in May.

Dr Ahuja said: ‘Working collaboratively with the Council for Work and Health, the DWP and their stakeholders made it challenging to incorporate the variety of views, but I am pleased that the guide is now being well received by the GPs.’

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