Greater Manchester Combined Authority commissions PwC to aid WorkWell Partnership following PM’s plan to tackle ‘sick note culture’

By Lina Kurdi | Published: 20-Jun-2024

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has commissioned PwC to support it with elements of the development of a Greater Manchester WorkWell Partnership, part of a new health and employment government scheme

The British government has launched Work Well, an early-intervention work and health support and assessment service with a Work Well Pilot scheme that will test the service across 15 Integrated Care Boards (ICBs). 

NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board was one of 15 NHS ICBs chosen to participate in the Work Well Pilot scheme.

The £64m pilot scheme will provide a single, collaborative assessment and gateway into employment support and health services locally.

WorkWell is aimed at people who do not work due to a health condition including mental health. 

PwC was awarded a WorkWell Partnership Vanguard contract worth £91,000

Further, contracts up to £100,000 are available to companies commissioned to be a part of the development of a WorkWell Partnership.

PwC was appointed a £91,000 contract by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop a Joint Inclusive Employment Unit and support the co-design of the Greater Manchester WorkWell Partnership by facilitating several design workshops.

The professional services company primarily known for accounting will not have a role in the delivery of WorkWell in Manchester.

WorkWell will be run by NHS GM in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the 10 Local Authorities in Greater Manchester. 

The WorkWell pilot scheme is anticipated to start in October this year in Manchester and the rest of the participating areas.

The appointment of PwC in the Greater Manchester pilot scheme follows Rishi Sunak’s plan to tackle the ‘sick note culture’ and WorkWell is also part of his wider plans to reform welfare. 

Tackling the ‘sick note culture’

WorkWell is Sunak’s solution to what he deemed the “sick note culture,” following data that the NHS recently published.

The data showed that almost 11m sick notes, formally known as fit notes, were issued last year. Of the 11m fit notes issued 94% were signed “not fit for work.”

A large proportion of these were repeat fit notes “issued without any advice, resulting in a missed opportunity to help people get the appropriate support they may need to remain in work,” according to the press release issued by the government.

The ICBs chosen to participate were in areas that had the highest number of sick notes issued. 

The WorkWell pilot scheme is anticipated to start in October this year

Further, under the WorkWell pilot scheme, GPs will no longer be able to issue sick notes. Instead, health professionals “who have the dedicated time and expertise to provide an objective assessment of someone’s ability to work and the tailored support they may need” can issue sick notes.  

GPs within the pilot scheme areas can refer patients who need a sick note onto WorkWell “to stop people being written off as not fit for work by default,” according to the press release.

Under this new system, “each fit note conversation” will focus on “what people can do with the right support in place, rather than what they can’t do,” as stated in the press release. 

The aim of WorkWell is to help the government “modernise the benefit system.”

WorkWell is also designed to “relieve pressure on GPs and deliver personalised work and health plans that prevent people from falling out of work and onto long-term sickness benefits,” according to the press release.

The £64m pilot scheme will provide a single, collaborative assessment and gateway into employment support and health services locally

However, participation is voluntary and people do not need to be claiming any Government benefits to be referred to the scheme.

Participants will receive “personalised support from a Work and Health Coach to understand their current health and social barriers to work and draw up a plan to help them overcome them,” according to the press release. 

Media restrictions are in place preventing government and local authority representatives from commenting until the elections.

PwC told Building Better Healthcare that it does not comment on work with its clients.

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