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Government working-health plans a “step in the right direction”

26 November 2008

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The government’s new package of measures to get people back to work and to help them stay in work, announced yesterday (25 November 2008) is a “step in the right direction”, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

Commenting on the government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of the working-age population, Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA’s GP Committee, said:

“The BMA has been calling for the sick-note system to be reviewed for more than 10 years, and we believe a Fit for Work service to help people back into employment may be the right way forward.

“The new ‘fit note’ has potential, but we would like to see the findings of this evaluation because it’s crucial GPs can continue to act as the patient’s advocate and don’t end up policing the system for the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Dr Paul Nicholson, Chairman of the BMA’s Occupational Medicine Committee, said: “We’re glad the government has recognised more needs to be done to help small and medium-sized businesses deal with employee health, though we would have liked to have seen a commitment to making sure every worker has access to basic occupational health services.

“Employers do need to take more responsibility, particularly in difficult economic times like now, as work-related ill health problems may well become more common.”