Companies calling for increased training for GPs in Health & Work


Nearly half (43%) of employers have found that the government ‘fit note’ is not aiding employees in returning to work, according to a survey from Jelf Employee Benefits and EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

The survey suggests that the government scheme, launched five years ago with the intention of improving productivity, has failed to help people get back to work or to improve the UK’s sickness-absence performance.

In fact employer approval ratings about the ‘fit note’ have dropped since 2010, with a 9% increase in those who find it does not work. 47% of employers also comment that the advice given by GPs about employees’ fitness for work has not improved.

Out of 40,584 GPs in the UK in 2014, only around 5,000 have been trained in health & work, while £170 million has been invested in the new ‘Fit for Work’ service rather than in GP training.

EEF head of health & safety, Terry Woolmer, said: “We have supported the ‘fit note’ since day one and wanted it to succeed. However, the evidence is now clear five years on that it’s not delivering on helping people back to work earlier. In fact, the evidence suggests that the quality of advice being given by GPs to help people back to work is deteriorating.

“It can still be made to work but government now needs to put its shoulder to the wheel with greater resources. The first step must be to ensure that all GPs and hospital doctors are trained in health & work issues so they feel confident in giving proper advice. Without this as a basis there is little prospect of the ‘fit note’ ever delivering genuine improvement in return-to-work performance and absence reduction.”

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