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There are more than 700,000 people of working age living with a cancer diagnosis in the UK. For people who have experienced ill health or disability, remaining in or returning to work can actually help promote recovery and lead to better health outcomes.
A job can also restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income. Despite these factors, the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) found that there was very little in the way of existing vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for people affected by cancer. VR services aim to help people with health problems stay at, return to and remain in work.
To address the gap, Macmillan launched the Vocational Rehabilitation project in December 2009. The resulting strategy proposed that a new model of VR be tested to identify best practice. Seven pilot sites were launched in April 2010 to develop and deliver VR services across England until July 2011.
The evaluation team from University College London, led by Dr Diane Playford and Dr Gail Eva, has been gathering data on key aspects of the services and patient experience.
Three interim evaluation reports have been published, with a final report due in February 2012 (available at the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative website|). The evaluation contains health economic data so we can make a compelling case for VR in the current economic climate.
We have learned a lot about what works in VR from each of the pilot sites and have streamlined the VR model as a result. We know that there is a need for VR services and that existing services can help by being aware of the importance of work for people living with cancer.
You can read more about VR in this edition of Sharing good practice|.
1. Maddams J et al. Cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom: estimates for 2008. British Journal of Cancer. 2009; 101: 541–547 and Cancer prevalence in the UK, 2008| [PDF, 381kb] (accessed 19 Oct 2011). This estimate is for 18–64 year olds in 2008.
2. Gordon Waddell, A Kim Burton. Is Work Good for Your Health and Wellbeing?| [PDF, 1.2mb] 2006. The Stationary Office, UK.
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