We met up with Dr Russell Brynes who has been a GP for over 30 years, practicing at Woodstock Bower Surgery in Rotherham. Dr Brynes is also the lead for Mental Health within Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group.
“Working Win is a support mechanism for people with MSK or mental health conditions who are out of work and wanting to get back into employment, or are in work and struggling. This new service is designed to help them negotiate any barriers that they may have.
“The patients that I have referred on to the trial and are receiving treatment have told me that they get a dedicated specialist to support them to look for jobs suited to their needs. They can get help with interview prep, having conversations with employers about their needs, restoring confidence and drawing on their strengths and talents to achieve their goals. Patients can also get help to manage health conditions and advice on making adjustments in
“Being out of work can have a big impact on confidence; people can feel less employable after a period of sickness absence. There can also be allot of stigma around health conditions and feeling comfortable to disclose them to an employer. Fear of rejection is something that affects many people, so they may be afraid to even begin looking for work for fear that they will be turned down.
“Studies have shown that people who are in work are healthier than those who are not. I remember when I first started working in Rotherham – the steel industry had just closed down and huge numbers of people were becoming unemployed. There is a strong working ethic in the local people and when so many were left out of work it dramatically affected their mental health.
“There can be stigma surrounding claiming benefits and people can often attach this to their self-worth. With the demonising that takes place in the media, this can lead to feelings of guilt or even being ashamed. Obviously for many people work is one of their main physical activities in a day, so there is also a knock-on effect with physical health.
“The trial can help in several ways; by supporting people in a positive and flexible manner, giving them the helping hand that they need, overcoming the stigma and the barriers to find suitable employment, and then helping them to stay in work.
“With a service like this we could also see a cultural change; with people not being afraid to ask for help when they need it and not feeling like if they have been off sick then they are condemned to never work again.
“The fact that the trial is voluntary makes a big difference not only to how it is received by patients, but how the support is delivered by the team. Most people don’t like to be told what to do, so the fact that there are no sanctions or mandates - that people are empowered to make their own change - it really does make all the difference.
“It really couldn’t be easier to refer patients to the trial. The online form is one of the simplest that I have come across and it really does only take moments to fill out. Patients then hear back straight away and an appointment is made at a time and place that is convenient to them. Working Win really have managed to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible.