The Fit for Work advice service which offers expert and impartial work-related health advice, is now live.
Fit for Work is for anyone who needs free and impartial advice, including employers, GPs and employees. It is designed to support people in work with health conditions and to help with sickness absence.
Research suggests that being out of work
for long periods of time is damaging to people’s health and their social and financial well-being and that the longer someone is off sick, the harder it is for them to get back to work.
Advice is available over the phone as well as via the Fit for Work website.
Employees will soon be able to benefit from referrals to a health professional when they have been off sick for four weeks or more while employers could start to receive Return to Work Plans which will act as fit notes.
Fit for Work is intended to complement, not replace, existing occupational health provision. It should be particularly beneficial to smaller businesses that have not previously had access to occupational health advice.
There will be a phased rollout of the referral service over a period of months before Fit for Work is available nationwide. There will be more details of the rollout early in 2015 but people can sign up now to receive updates or get prepared by reading the guidance.
Fit for Work, which was known as the Health and Work Service, is being delivered in England and Wales by Health Management Ltd and in Scotland by the Scottish Government via NHS Scotland. In Scotland the service is called Fit for Work Scotland.
One in five cancers are being diagnosed at A&E – dramatically slashing the patient’s chances of survival.
GPs have been partly blamed for not spotting the warning signs early enough.
But the National Audit Office also pointed out that many people don’t know what to look for, so they have no idea that anything is wrong until they become so ill they need emergency treatment.
There also seems to be a postcode lottery – with 30 per cent of all cancers diagnosed at A&E in the worst performing areas, and just 13 per cent in the best.
Patients who discover they have cancer when they are at a casualty department are twice as likely to die within a year than those referred by their GP, because their disease tends to be more advanced.
The NAO said: ‘About one in five people are still diagnosed either in an A&E department or following an emergency admission to hospital, rather than via a routine screening or GP referral to hospital.
‘In 2012 the percentage of cancers diagnosed through emergency presentation varied from 13 per cent to 30 per cent across 211 clinical commissioning groups. More research is needed to understand better how many emergency presentations are avoidable and how they can be avoided.’
However, the figures did show a decrease in the proportion of cancers diagnosed at A&E between 2009 and 2012 – from 23.7 per cent to 20.6.
Last night Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham said of the report: ‘Growing numbers of patients are waiting too long to get tested for cancer. Speed is everything and patients are being badly let down.’
‘Labour will guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests and create a new Cancer Treatment Fund to improve access to drugs, radiotherapy and surgery.
“It’s a bleak outlook if you develop cancer, a long term illness or are in your later years”
The winter crisis in hospital A&E departments could take up to 5 years to sort out, senior health officials warned yesterday.
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England said it would be “foolish” to predict there would be no repeat of the delays patients have had waiting for treatment.
The stark warnings came after it emerged that the number of A&E visits nationwide had risen by more than 445,000 in a year.
Sir Bruce Keogh issued his bleak warnings about the state of the NHS to MP’s on the Healh Committee.
Professor Keith Willet, the NHS director of acute care, said there had to be a “complete transformation” of the entire emergency treatment system for a long-term solution.
Prof Willet said there was a three to five-year programme to improve A&E.
He told MPs: “We have to transform the whole system with a particular focus on out-of-hospital services being the way to reduce demand and alleviate congestion. It isn’t going to be a quick fix.”
Recent figures showed that fewer than 87% of patients were seen within the four-hour target period – well short of the expected 85 per cent rate. It is the lowest since records began in 2004.
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, told the committee that the increase in A&E visits was equivalent to eight or nine extra emergency departments.
Patients have also endured lengthy waits for ambulances. In one case, an elderly woman had to wait eleven hours. Some hospitals have been so full ambulances have queued for hours to unload their patients.
“And this demise in an election year – what an absolute travesty and mess”