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In recent years, there has been an increased government focus on supporting people with chronic illness back to work. Health, work and well-being – caring for our future, a 2005 green paper driving this agenda, was followed by Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of Britain’s working age population in 2008.
The resulting initiatives focused on cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health conditions, and generic long-term conditions.
The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative| (NCSI) was established in England to develop new models of care for people who have completed cancer treatment. One of the work streams focuses on work and financial issues. This has included the development and testing of a range of tools, resources and interventions to help people living with cancer get back to work. The VR service pilots fall under this work stream. Since the pilots began in England in April 2010, VR services have been developed in the other home nations.
More recently, the English Government has significantly reformed welfare support, as set out in the white paper Universal Credit: welfare that works. Up until March 2011, Pathways to Work and the Condition Management Programme were designed to support people with a health condition or disability back into employment. These programmes| now only exist in Northern Ireland.
In England, Scotland and Wales, these programmes were replaced by the Work Programme|. Work Programme services are provided by independent providers and offer a more flexible, personal back-to-work support.
This Jobcentre Plus offer was introduced in April 2011 for people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Income Support.
The offer precedes entry into the Work Programme and allows advisers and claimants to work together to compile a back-to-work programme that suits individual needs and circumstances. It also includes Health Related Support, which helps people maintain health and wellbeing while out of work, as well as manage health conditions while preparing to enter or return to work. Partners and carers of people claiming these benefits can also join the programme.
Access to Work| supports people with disabilities or health conditions in England, Scotland and Wales to stay in work. Funding is available to people either in work (including self-employment), about to start work, or off on long-term sickness absence. It funds things like physical adjustments, support workers, taxis and counselling.
This new government programme was launched in October 2010 and replaced three existing programmes (WORKSTEP, Work Preparation and the Job Introduction Scheme (JIS)).
Work Choice| provides specialised support to people with disabilities whose needs cannot be met by other work programmes or workplace adjustments. The JIS still exists in Northern Ireland and will help cover a new employee’s first few weeks of wages while the employee and employer decide whether the job is suitable.
The Disability Discrimination Act preceded the Equality Act and still applies in Northern Ireland. Under both pieces of legislation, someone who has, or has had, cancer cannot be discriminated against. An employer must also make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or role so their employee can continue working. Under the Equality Act, employers can no longer ask questions about a candidate’s health during the recruitment process. Therefore potential employees need not disclose a cancer diagnosis until after being offered a job.
Please see the references| section.
Part one - Vocational rehabilitation: building work into a care plan|
Part two - Evidence base |
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