Work and health
In the ministerial forward of the recent 'work, health and disability green paper', Damian Green, (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) and Jeremy Hunt, (Secretary of State for Health), said; 'We know that the right type of work is good for our physical and mental health and good health and support helps us in the workplace. We know that we must protect those with the most needs in society. We need a health and welfare system that recognises that – one that offers work for all those who can, help for those who could and care for those who can’t.'1
Here at the Centre, we believe it's vital that work and health go hand-in-hand, and our involvement in the 'work and health' sphere has taken two main routes.
Improving information sharing across work and health
Firstly, in late 2016/early 2017, the Centre started to work with the ‘work and health unit’ – this unit is jointly sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH). The Centre has been funded to support the work and health unit in their vision of strengthened partnerships and joined up local services. This piece of work looks to address information sharing with local partners to support better employment, health and social justice outcomes. The Centre are therefore bringing together local partners to explore how to share information more effectively in the delivery of services to address worklessness. By improving information sharing, service users receive better support from a more efficient and joined-up approach.
To kick-start this piece of work, in March 2017 the Centre arranged an information sharing event for DWP staff and local partners to investigate the information sharing barriers currently faced, discuss good practice, and explore how information sharing could be improved by strengthening the way in which government works at both a national and local level.
The Centre have written a brief report to capture what was said at the event, and this will be used to focus the direction of the work in the coming months. You can download both the report and the appendices by clicking on the links below:
Within the report above, six key themes were identified by the delegates who attended the workshop, these have been prioritised into three main challenges and over the coming months the Centre will do some intensive work with a small number of local places to capture good practice and get to the heart of the information sharing issues. This page will be updated as this progresses so please check back regularly or sign up to our newsletter for more info.
Green paper consultation
The Centre have also supported the joint work and health unit as they led the work across government on the Improving lives: the work, health and disability green paper. The Centre supported this by managing a consultation event which fed into the green paper consultation.
The improving lives green paper (consultation closed March 2017) focused on how government and wider society can enable and support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to reach their full potential and asks “What will it take to transform the employment prospects of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions?”
A number of the consultation questions for the green paper have a focus on information sharing. Such as, asking how to share evidence between different benefit assessments to reduce the burden on claimants and on benefit decision-makers? How to bring about better work-focussed conversations between an individual, health professional, employer and Jobcentre Plus work coach? How to encourage innovation through local networks to improve health and work outcomes and consider different approaches to joint working such as co-location? How can government and local partners best encourage improved sharing of health and employment data?
To support the DWP/DH consultation, in February 2017 the Centre ran a workshop (on behalf of the joint work and health unit) to capture the views of a range of partners and stakeholders including practitioners, commissioners, members of health and well being boards and information governance experts.
At the workshop we discussed the information sharing issues currently faced, shared good practice together and explored how information sharing could be improved by strengthening the way in which government works at both a national and local level. The workshop was also an excellent networking and learning opportunity and a chance to share ideas.
Following the workshop, Centre staff pulled together a short report which summarised the delegates thoughts from the day. This has been provided to the work and health unit to feed into the wider consultation and is also available to download: Work and health consultation - findings report.