Rapid access to health services


28 / 10 / 2015 3.06pm

Rapid access is a system which can secure rehabilitation and occupational health treatment for NHS employees with a view to enabling employees to remain at work but receive appropriate support, adjustments and/or interventions or facilitate a return to work which is, as fast as practical, and reasonable. This will benefit the employee, the employer and patients. 
NHS Employers have produced a briefing document outlining what rapid access is, the benefits and suggestions for implementation. Sample policies and approaches are also provided to support employers with regard to the ways in which this can be implemented at a local level.

Currently some employers do offer this approach, however it can be limited to the offer of rapid access within the limits of the individual organisation.

Much sickness absence is caused by conditions that can be managed with effective, but often light-touch, professional support.

Leading organisations commit to:

  • providing specific capacity for staff to access physiotherapy and talking therapies, as well as smoking cessation and weight management services.
Mental health and musculoskeletal problems are the biggest causes of sickness absence across the NHS. Some organisations have developed a combination of early intervention before problems become too serious and rapid access to treatment when needed. This helps staff stay in work in the first place, and return to work more quickly when they are ill.

We know that there are evidence based weight management programmes, and they can be effectively delivered in workplaces where they can helpfully benefit from support from colleagues and making it part of a familiar environment. Organisations can also promote awareness of subsidised weight management programmes available to NHS staff through the NHS health discounts website.

The healthy workplaces team will invest in organisation’s capacity so they can provide more immediate access to health services provided by the trust. This will help staff stay healthy and in work – bringing benefits for those individuals, patients and the wider organisation.

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