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'Jobs on prescription’ scheme for long-term unemployed

Unemployed Islington residents with long-term health conditions could soon be offered employment support services as part of a new ‘jobs on prescription’ pilot scheme run by Islington Council, Jobcentre Plus, and the NHS Islington Clinical Commissioning Group. 
 
Under the new ‘Working Better’ scheme, GPs will be able to refer clients – who face long-term, health-related barriers to work – to intensive and personalised employment coaching, offered on a one-to-one basis at the doctors’ surgery.
 
Referrals will be made at the GP’s discretion. So far, five GP surgeries have signed up to the deliver the programme, which is voluntary for jobseekers.
 
Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, said: “We know that employment is one of the best ways to tackle poverty. And yet, there are lots of people on sickness and disability benefits who want to work, but existing services aren’t very good at supporting them to do so.
 
“Health services are often quite disconnected from employment services and frontline health staff don’t feel comfortable talking about returning to work with their patients. We think there is much more that health services can do to promote the idea of employment for people with health conditions.”

Dr Josephine Sauvage from the NHS Islington Clinical Commissioning Group said: “When we become ill we often stop doing those things that get us out and about and bring fulfilment to our lives. As a local GP I see and hear this every day and I'm very keen to do more to support my patients' well-being. Prescribing free and confidential employment coaching, delivered in a caring and familiar environment, could be really beneficial to a patient's confidence and self-esteem, as well as their long-term recovery.”
 
The launch of the scheme comes in the run-up to the anniversary of the council’s independent employment commission.
 
The commission’s final report, published last November, called for establishing employment support services where hard-to-help people already went – like GP surgeries.
 
The Working Better scheme went live on Tuesday 1 September 2015.