Researchers: Roy Sainsbury, Jacqueline Davidson, Katharine Weston, Annie Irvine with Institute for Employment Studies, University of Liverpool, National Institute of Economic and Social Research and Gfk NOP
Funder: Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health
Duration: February 2010 - April 2012
A review by Dame Carol Black of the health of Britain’s working age population, Working for a Healthier Tomorrow, was published in 2008. One of its recommendations was the establishment of services (known as Fit for Work services) for people off work through sickness or disability to help them return work. Many companies have occupational health services that carry out this function so the new services were intended mainly for employees in SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises).
The services have initially been set up as pilots in 11 sites in the UK. This evaluation, carried out by a consortium of research organisations, is intended to assess the impact of the pilots (and their cost-effectiveness) and to understand effective practice.
The evaluation package comprises the following methodological components:
- longitudinal process visits in each of the 11 pilots
- a two wave survey of users of the services
- a qualitative, longitudinal study of users’ experiences
- analysis of sick note data
- a focused study of GPs' views and use of Fit for Work services.
The evaluation was delayed as a result of the general election of 2010 and subsequent review of research funding. The project was resumed in September 2010 and data collection is expected to begin in October.
Policy and practice aims
Lessons learned from the evaluation will help policy makers decide whether and how a national Fit for Work service should be rolled out in the future.
Publications and presentations
Evaluation of the Fit for Work Service Pilots: First year report, 2012
Hillage, J. (with others including Davidson, J., Irvine, A., Sainsbury, R. and Weston, K.), Department for Work and Pensions Research Report, no. 792.