St Helens digital health project lands government funding

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton
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People in St Helens with health conditions will receive support to manage their conditions at work after an innovative project, delivered by North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, was one of 19 projects to receive Government funding.


Almost £4 million of funding under the new Work and Health Challenge Fund will be shared between the successful projects. The fund is the latest in a series of government measures which form part of a 10-year strategy to get one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s project aims to help people return to work or remain in work by accessing self-help resources online and linking in to the St Helens musculoskeletal (MSK) service.

There will be resources on the Trust website offering advice and management guidance for people presenting with MSK conditions. Patients will also have the ability to interact with the service directly, enabling patients to be sent bespoke resources to their smart device via an app to help them manage their condition.

Ruth Sephton, Consultant Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist leading on this project at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our project aims to help people with musculoskeletal problems who are at risk of going off work to remain in work or those who are already off work to return to work.

“As physios, we are often the first point of contact for people with these conditions so are in a prime position to make a difference at an early stage.

“We already have a big focus on moving to digital solutions to support patients to self-care and will be developing a specialist online resource where we can direct patients to bespoke advice and exercises. We will also be developing staff training so the team is able to more effectively support employees to remain in work.

“Helping people to remain healthy and in work not only helps the individual and the employer, it also impacts on the wider health and social care system. Long term sickness is well documented to increase risk of additional complications, including mental ill-health and potential unemployment.

“We’re really excited the Challenge Fund will enable us to concentrate our efforts on making a difference and making it happen quickly.”

The Challenge Fund is a joint initiative between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care, and has a focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions - some of the most common health conditions in the workplace.

It will ensure that people whose health conditions may have previously held them back in the workplace or even caused them to drop out of employment can benefit from the latest innovations and tailored support.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton said: “We want to harness the power of technology to tackle the disability employment gap, and these novel ideas will help us to achieve our goal of seeing one million more disabled people in work.

“The Challenge Fund has given experts on the ground the opportunity to come up with ideas on how best to support people to manage their health conditions at work, and the financial backing to take those ideas forward. I congratulate those successful in securing funding and look forward to working with them to develop these innovative ideas.”