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NHS England to invest £70m in helping mentally ill or disabled return to work


1 November 2016

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NHS England and the Government are investing £70 million to test ways of supporting people with a disability or long-term condition to return to work.

With support from the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, the four-year programme will see trials focusing on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions developed to help people re-enter and stay in work.

Sheffield City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority will receive the financial investment and support to design and progress the trials.

NHS England and the Government are investing £70 million to test ways of supporting people with a disability or long-term condition to return to work.

With support from the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, the four-year programme will see trials focusing on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions developed to help people re-enter and stay in work.

Sheffield City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority will receive the financial investment and support to design and progress the trials.

Mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions are the most commonly reported illnesses reported by people out of work.

Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said: “The evidence is now clear that early treatment for mental and physical health problems helps working age adults get and keep well-paying jobs, and this in turn positively improves their own health and social wellbeing. So for most people, health and work are a virtuous circle.

“The NHS has a major contribution to make to the health of working age adults and, as Europe’s largest employer, to the health of our 1.3 million staff.

“The NHS is also committed to helping catalyse action by other public and private sector employers to support their own employees’ health, in workplaces across the nation.”

The trials are expected to work with 5,000 people with mental or physical health issues.

Following a review in December, the trials will start in 2017 and run for between 2 and 3 years, with results published after the first year to enable successful services to spread to other areas.

Norman Lamb MP, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority Mental Health Commission, said: “This programme aims to dramatically improve supported employment services for people with mental and physical health issues in the West Midlands.

“Scaling up support across the West Midlands is hugely significant and will bring real benefits to hundreds of residents across the region, improving their skills and employability and, most importantly, their quality of life.

“At the same time, it will help to improve the local economy and reduce demand for health and social care services.”

This programme is linked with the Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper which looks at how best to provide employment support to individuals with health conditions and disabilities.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, said: “The additional cost to the NHS of treating long term health conditions that keep people out of work is estimated to be in the region of £7 billion per year.

“This means it is vital the health service is part of this new conversation on health and work. This Green Paper launches a wide–ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome.

“With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity – to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health and benefit the NHS all at the same time.”

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