Employee health specialist in Bury St Edmunds speaks out as Government confirms end to ‘Fit To Work’

A Bury St Edmunds firm specialising in employee health has welcomed the prospect of amendments to ‘fit note’ powers, and says better support for both employers and staff must be the ultimate objective.

RehabWorks, which has its headquarters in the towns, has spoken out in light of news that the government has confirmed it is to scrap its Fit For Work scheme, and applauded its intention to instead explore a more flexible approach to ‘fit note’ usage throughout the UK.

As an award-winning company which leads on evidence-based occupational health solutions, RehabWorks played a direct role in reporting to the government on the progress and success of the Fit For Work initiative.

Clinical director Mark Armour, pictured above, participated as a member of the Clinical Advisory Group.

He said: “The Fit for Work initiative was always very well intentioned, but it was held back for a few reasons, including the difficulty a national service has in understanding specific occupational issues and liaising effectively with employers about the return-to-work strategy for their members of staff. What we’ve seen in the confirmation this week is that there is now intent to extend the Fit Note certification powers to other healthcare professionals, having considered the way the previous approach has been working.

“We very much welcome this news and believe it will make a significant difference to the care received by staff, and experienced within companies as a whole, if the likes of physiotherapists and psychological therapists are also allowed to certify.”

Mental Health and musculoskeletal issues are the two most significant reasons for absence in the workplace, according to RehabWorks, the HSE and the CIPD.

The company has seen a growing need in recent years to be able to educate both employers and staff about what is available to them, and what a likely ‘return to work’ programmes might be avaible for an employee.

Mr Armour added: “Our focus is always to support people with mental health and other conditions to stay in work where possible, with full liaison with the employer. We’ve welcomed recent news in the employee health arena that a new and more flexible model for supporting those with mental health issues in particular, is to be fully explored.

“While the news confirming the end to the Fit For Work initiative does ultimately mean an end to one particular concept, we very much feel that it is now paving the way for a strategy which focuses on wider certification potential and more awareness. However, one caveat to offer is that frontline NHS employees will need to be upskilled in order to plan appropriate programmes for return-to-work or remaining in post during health issues.”

RehabWorks work with a broad spectrum of clients, which range in size and focus from small SMEs to large employers, such as John Lewis Partnership, in the corporate sector, to NHS Trusts and large public sector bodies.  

The company’s services cover everything from an Employee Assistance Program to much more extensive Wellbeing Programs, with associated care pathways to provide solutions for more complex Mental Health issues.

Each year, the company supports some 50,000 individuals in getting back to good health.

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