Archive for November 18th, 2011

DWP report published – the role of fit notes

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a report of findings from qualitative research with General Practitioners (GPs) to examine their views on the Statement of Fitness for Work – the fit note.

The report provides detailed information about how the fit note has influenced GPs’ certification practice, and GPs’ views on their role in sickness certification. It is part of a wider programme of research to evaluate the fit note, including research with employers.

Key findings of the report

  • The fit note has become a consultation tool that GPs use to initiate and guide negotiations with patients about returning to or commencing work. GPs use the fit note to justify why they have initiated discussion about work and to prompt them through the process of questioning patients about their work-related capabilities.


  • GPs perceive that the fit note is most effective for patients with conditions such as ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, mild-to-moderate mental health conditions, and musculoskeletal conditions.


  • GPs are less confident in using particular options on the fit note, like the amended duties and workplace adaptations tick boxes. Some reported difficulty in understanding and distinguishing between the four return-to-work tick boxes and confusion over date fields.


  • Barriers to the successful use of the fit note include GPs’ confidence in dealing with conflict and their perception that it could damage their relationship with their patients. GPs are also less likely to drive for a return to work if they perceive the patient’s job to contribute to their health condition.


  • Many GPs believe that motivating their patients to return to work is an integral part of their role and that the fit note has helped them to do this. It has also helped some GPs to adopt a stricter role with their patients.


Read the report



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David Cameron announced £250m boost for skills training

The Prime Minister has announced a new plan which will give businesses the power to design, develop and purchase the vocational training they need. This announcement forms part of the government’s growth review.

In the New Year employers will be invited to bid for a share of the £250 million government fund. It will route public investment directly to employers – enabling them to invest in the training they actually need.

The competitive fund will route public investment directly to employers and will be backed by significant resources from existing skills budgets. Funding for 2012/13 will be up to £50m, with an additional £200m in the second year – subject to evidence of high-quality proposals from employers and ongoing evaluation.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“I know times are tough – especially for young people – who are trying to get their foot in the door and launch their career. That is why I am determined to do all that we can to give people the very best skills, training and opportunities to succeed; and why despite tough spending decisions we are investing in record number of apprenticeships.

“We are seeing an incredible take up of these apprenticeship places. I want that to continue, which is why we are taking action to make it easier to take on apprentices, and now we are giving employers the power to take control of the training so that it best meets the skills they need.

“I hope this radical new approach will encourage even more employers to take on apprentices and ensure that the UK workforce has the skills we need to boost growth.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Skills are central to the UK economy and our long-term competitiveness. Despite some good progress our system needs more flexibility and we are treading water by international standards.

“We have to fundamentally alter the relationship between employers and the state – giving employers the space and opportunity for greater ownership of the vocational skills agenda, including the chance to bid for direct control of public funds. This will encourage greater competition in the market as we strive for sustainable growth.”

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Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support


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Iain Duncan Smith stands in the gap

Iain Duncan Smith vigorously opposed a benefits freeze which would have saved the Treasury £10 billion or a rise in line with earnings which would have saved £5 billion.

Some ministers had been arguing that a rise in line with average earnings 2.5 per cent would have been fairer. As is it, benefits will now rise by a lower inflation rate of 4.5 per cent which is based on average inflation during the six months to September.

So despite comments to the contrary IDS is standing in the gap and is indeed fighting for those on benefits.

… And oh, by the way: final approval from Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander is being sought and if agreed will be announced in 29 November

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