A new Health & Work Assessment & Advisory Service is to be launched. Its aim is to facilitate an early return to work of employees who have been off work for four weeks. The intention is that GPs will normally refer a patient for an assessment by an occupational health professional who will look at barriers to returning to work. Following a referral, employees will be given a return to work plan. There will also be an advice phone line and website for employees, employers and GPs. The scheme will be paid for through the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme.

The implementation of the service has been long awaited, but the Scottish Government now has a go-live date of 15 December 2014. The Health & Work Service – Scotland Programme Board is committed to achieving this date. The launch will be phased, beginning with three NHS boards in the first instance.