Practices are offering careers advice for the long-term unemployed as part of a scheme which aims to overcome health-related barriers to work.
The ‘Working Better’ scheme in Islington, north London, was launched on 1 September and will see practices offering one-on-one employment coaching.
The scheme, run by Islington Council, Jobcentre Plus and NHS Islington CCG, comes in response to the council’s independent employment commission last year, which called for employment support services to be provided in places where hard-to-help people already went – like GP surgeries.
Costing nearly £90,000, the intensive and personalised employment coaching pilot scheme has been taken up by five surgeries so far.
Dr Josephine Sauvage from the NHS Islington CCG explained that the employment drive aims to redress isolation and confidence issues, which are often associated with long-term health problems.
She said: ‘When we become ill we often stop doing those things that get us out and about and bring fulfilment to our lives. As a local GP I see and hear this every day and I’m very keen to do more to support my patients’ well-being.
‘Prescribing free and confidential employment coaching, delivered in a caring and familiar environment, could be really beneficial to a patient’s confidence and self-esteem, as well as their long-term recovery.”
Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said: ‘Health services are often quite disconnected from employment services and frontline health staff don’t feel comfortable talking about returning to work with their patients. We think there is much more that health services can do to promote the idea of employment for people with health conditions.’