The scrapping of the retirement age, and the proposed increases to the pension age show clear expectations that as life expectancy continues to increase, we will remain in work for longer. For this to be achieved we will need to stay healthy for longer, and healthy enough to work productively.
The relationship between health and work, is slowly becoming recognised as a priority, largely through the work of Dame Carol Black, the first National Director for Health and Work. However there is still a long way to go, with many GPs and Public Health Directors currently still not taking responsibility for getting people back to work and ensuring a healthy working population.
The interrelationship between health and employment is complex. However it has been widely shown that staying in employment has a positive effect on health. For those of a working age experiencing health problems, either related to their work, or from a separate cause, it is essential that these are treated quickly allowing the patient to return to work, rather than allow the situation to deteriorate. With current hopes that we will remain healthy and working for longer, the development of this area will be even more critical.
At 2020health we are currently investigating how local councils and emergent local NHS bodies can work together on this issue. GPs need to be aware of their role in returning people to work quickly, and work together with public health to ensure a healthy working population. We would be glad to hear of any GP consortia, Health and Wellbeing boards or local councils who are already working on this issue.