New occupational health report aims to improve return to work

Allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists and podiatrists, could play a greater role in helping ill or injured employees return to work following the publication of a new assessment report.

The Allied Health Professions (AHP) Advisory Fitness for Work Report, which has been developed by The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), the College of Occupational Therapists and the Society of Chiropody and Podiatrists, is designed to complement the existing Statement of Fitness for Work, which GPs use to determine whether patients can remain in work, or need to be signed off.

The report focuses on three main areas:

  • Advising employers how to help support staff affected by illness, injury or recovery from treatment to enable them to stay in employment.
  • Giving employees a better understanding of their condition to help them structure return-to-work discussions with their employer.
  • Offering GPs a report on which to base the provision of a Statement of Fitness for Work to the employee.

It will also help GPs and employers to focus on what an employee can do at work as part of their rehabilitation after illness, injury or recovery from treatment.

Léonie Dawson, a professional adviser at the CSP, said: “It’s an ideal opportunity for physiotherapists and other AHPs with expertise in occupational health to support people in using work as part of their rehabilitation.”

Julia Skelton, director of professional operations at the College of Occupational Therapists, added: “This advisory assessment report will identify how occupational therapists can help someone overcome physical and mental difficulties to return to a productive working life.

“This will help to reduce the costs of sickness absence, support employers and, importantly, improve the health and wellbeing of the working population.”