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“UK Government Launches WorkWell Program to Help People with Long-Term Conditions Stay Employed”


The UK is currently facing a significant challenge of long-term sickness, with 2.8 million people being economically inactive due to health issues. In response to this issue, the work and pensions secretary has introduced the WorkWell program, a groundbreaking service that combines workplace advice and health support to help individuals with long-term conditions stay employed. This initiative aims to put an end to the “spiral of sickness” and improve the lives of those affected.

WorkWell Program Launches to Assist Those at Risk of Falling Out of the Workforce

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Health and Social Care have joined forces to offer tailored support to approximately 59,000 individuals at risk of leaving the workforce. Starting in October, this £64 million program will focus on 15 areas across the country, including regions like Greater Manchester and the Black Country, which witnessed over a million Fit Notes issued last year. The goal is to target areas with high rates of sick leave and provide the necessary assistance to prevent individuals from becoming economically inactive.

The Importance of Integrating Health and Work Advice

Mel Stride MP emphasizes that many people are unnecessarily leaving their jobs due to a spiral of sickness, which negatively impacts their finances, prospects, and overall health. By integrating health and work advice at the local level, the WorkWell program aims to disrupt this pattern. Stride believes that with the right workplace adjustments and support, individuals can continue working despite their long-term conditions. This innovative service will provide a comprehensive assessment, offering both employment support and access to health services.

A Holistic Approach to Support

WorkWell offers a holistic approach to address various aspects of an individual’s well-being. For instance, if someone with chronic back pain and depression is considering leaving their job, they can be referred to WorkWell by their employer. An assessment conducted by a work and health coach may result in physiotherapy, counseling sessions, or workplace adjustments such as flexible working hours or remote work options. Furthermore, the program may provide training opportunities to explore different career paths.

Accessibility and Voluntary Participation

The WorkWell program is designed to be accessible and inclusive. It is a voluntary service, allowing individuals to self-refer or be referred by their GP, employer, or the community sector. Participants do not need to be claiming benefits to take part, ensuring that all individuals with long-term conditions have an opportunity to receive support. The program aims to demonstrate that work is beneficial for overall well-being, reducing the risk of depression, improving physical health, and fostering self-confidence and financial independence.

Fit Note Integration and Back to Work Plan

The Fit Note process, which assesses an individual’s fitness for work, is also being integrated into the WorkWell program. This integration will enable individuals to have a comprehensive work and health conversation, resulting in a single, joined-up assessment and access to local employment support services. The move comes after 94 percent of the 11 million Fit Notes issued last year were signed off as “not fit for work.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has proposed shifting the responsibility of assessing an individual’s ability to work from GPs to specialist work and health professionals.

Reforming Personal Independence Payments (PIPs)

In addition to the WorkWell program, the government is also considering reforms to personal independence payments (PIPs). The proposed changes may involve shifting away from cash benefits for certain conditions and introducing alternative support mechanisms such as vouchers or one-off grants for home adjustments. However, these proposals have received criticism from organizations like Charity Scope, who argue that such changes would have a negative impact on disabled individuals. They believe that taking away the limited income provided by PIPs would not solve the country’s problems and would disproportionately affect those with mental health conditions.

Addressing the Rising Number of Economically Inactive Individuals

The latest figures reveal that the number of economically inactive individuals in the UK due to long-term sickness is at a near-record high of 2.8 million. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described this trend as “economically unsustainable.” The Resolution Foundation think tank has also highlighted the need for the benefits system to adapt to the steep rise in the number of people with ill health or disabilities. This emphasizes the urgency and importance of initiatives like the WorkWell program in providing much-needed support to individuals facing long-term health challenges.


The WorkWell program represents a significant step towards addressing the issue of long-term sickness and economic inactivity in the UK. By integrating workplace advice and health support, this initiative aims to break the cycle of sickness and enable individuals with long-term conditions to stay employed. The program’s holistic approach, voluntary participation, and integration of the Fit Note process demonstrate a commitment to supporting individuals in their journey towards improved well-being and financial independence. However, it is crucial that reforms to benefits systems, such as PIPs, take into account the unique challenges faced by disabled individuals and avoid further exacerbating their financial burdens. The government must continue to adapt and develop strategies to meet the growing needs of those affected by long-term sickness.

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