The UK Government has announced the WorkWell health support service, a new £64m ($79m) initiative designed to assist individuals with health conditions in maintaining employment or re-entering the workforce.  

This programme is a collaborative effort between the UK Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), targeting around 15 areas across England. 

Starting from October, WorkWell pilots will connect 59,000 people to local services such as physiotherapy and counselling.  

The service aims to provide a comprehensive assessment and access point for both employment support and health services, facilitating personalised assistance to manage conditions and identify necessary workplace adjustments. 

Participants, who do not need to be claiming benefits from the government, will receive support from a ‘Work and Health Coach’ to address their health and social barriers to employment.  

The service is voluntary and open to self-referrals, as well as referrals from employers, general practitioners (GPs), or community sector professionals. 

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The latest initiative is part of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s broader effort to modernise the welfare system and address high number of individuals ‘economically inactive’ due to long-term sickness.  

Besides, the government is reviewing the fit note process to focus on what individuals can do with the right support, rather than what they cannot do. 

WorkWell pilots are strategically located in areas with high numbers of fit notes issued from last year, including Greater Manchester and Black Country.  

Additionally, “fit note trailblazers” are being introduced in some pilot areas to ensure those seeking fit notes are directed to local employment support services. 

The pilot’s success will determine the potential national rollout of the WorkWell service, which is a crucial component of the government’s £2.5bn Back to Work Plan.  

This plan aims to support up to 1.1 million people with health conditions, disabilities and long-term unemployment and includes reforms to the fit note process, expansion of NHS Talking Therapies, and launch of the Universal Support and Restart scheme. 

DHSC secretary Victoria Atkins said: “This service will help tens of thousands of people, who will receive joined-up work and health support, tailored to their individual needs. This service, alongside a faster, simpler and fairer health service, will build a healthier workforce, and a stronger economy.”