New £4.7m EU-backed programme to support 4,000 people in Wales with health problems stay in work

A new programme to help more than 4,000 people with health problems, including mental health problems, stay in work will be set up in Wales after it received a multi-million pound EU funding boost.

The £4.7m programme, which includes £3.2m of European Union funding through the Welsh Government, aims to help more than 4,000 people receive additional support, which addresses health-related barriers to remaining in employment.

The programme will operate in Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.

People taking part in the programme will benefit from rapid access to tailored and work-focused therapeutic interventions designed to help those on, or at risk of, a long-term sickness absence to remain in work or return to work sooner.

People in work with health conditions, including musculoskeletal problems, mental ill health or drug and alcohol problems will also be able to access the programme via their GP, their employer or a self-referral. The scheme will support employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the private and third sector, which lack access to occupational health services.

Support will also be available to SME managers and employees through 130 workshops to help improve workplace health and wellbeing and reduce sickness absence. In addition, GPs will also be engaged to help address patients’ work-related health problems.

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“This new in-work support programme will help more than 4,000 people with health problems stay in work.

“This will help tackle poverty and social exclusion by preventing people falling out of work due to common health problems, which are often musculoskeletal and mental health-related.

“It will provide rapid access to early, work-focused interventions, including physiotherapy, psychological therapies and occupational therapy.”

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said:

“We are committed to helping people with work-limiting health conditions to remain in work. This scheme will provide additional and tailored support so those people with health conditions can stay in employment and benefit from a more prosperous future.

“This is another positive example of how EU funds are benefiting the people of Wales.”