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Trusts must act early to aid nurses on sick leave

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TRUSTS must intervene more quickly to prevent nurses from being off sick for long periods, under proposals drawn up by unions and NHS Employers.

TRUSTS must intervene more quickly to prevent nurses from being off sick for long periods, under proposals drawn up by unions and NHS Employers.

Treatment for work-related illness must be offered to nurses within six weeks of their going on sick leave, under minimum standards agreed by the NHS sickness absence and ill-health retirement review.

Line managers will be held responsible for recognising that staff have health problems at an early stage, and acting to minimise any effects.

The standards say trusts should improve how they manage the return to work process for all staff.

A key aim of the scheme, due to come into effect from April next year, is to prevent staff from being off for long periods without an income once their sick pay has run out.

Richard Parker, staff-side chairperson of the sickness absence and ill-health retirement review, said: 'There are a lot of cases where staff go off sick but are not seen regularly, the sick pay runs out and they end up with no prospect of the employer getting them back to work.

'Many staff would prefer the option to keep working. This is about preventing staff sickness and injury and supporting staff to continue working, either part time or by changing their role.

'We also want to ensure staff can easily access benefits should they need to retire on ill-health grounds,' he added.

NHS Employers ill-health review project man ager Jeremy Orr added: 'These proposals are a good deal for NHS staff, employers and tax payers.'

Consultation is open until 21 January 2008.

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