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Celebrating 70 years of the NHS new contracts recognise the value of meaningful work for health

This week, Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Work and Pensions officially launched the THRIVE contracts across the West Midlands at Birmingham Football Club. In the week the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, the Minister acknowledged the benefits of meaningful work as a way to improve people’s lives, particularly those with long term health issues. She hopes the success of THRIVE will lead to a national rollout of the programme

The contracts which form the ‘Thrive Into Work, Individual Placement and Support Service Trial’ have been described by the West Midlands Combined Authority as of ‘global importance’ as it transforms employment, health, and wellbeing outcomes for people with health conditions.

Prospects, as prime contractor in Sandwell & West Birmingham, has employment specialists working across primary and community NHS services. Using the eight principles of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, already well-evidenced internationally for people with severe mental illness, to provide a “place then train” supported employment service in parallel to the health treatment offered by NHS clinicians, the employment specialists are working with partners including Walking with the Wounded, Health Exchange CIC, Enable and Better Pathways.

To enable this work to provide a lasting legacy, the employment specialists are also working with clinicians to change the culture of the NHS to ensure it is much more focused on employment as a driver of health and wellbeing.

Brenda Cabras, Director for Employability at Shaw Trust, which recently acquired Prospects, comments: “We have always known that meaningful work gives people a sense of purpose and improves wellbeing and we see work as a health outcome. We are therefore delighted to be part of the first trial to test primary and community care approaches to delivering IPS following our successful trial in Bournemouth and Dorset.”

Brenda continues “This work could fundamentally change the way people with long term health issues are supported through greater collaboration across agencies and reducing the impact on the NHS, which is a fitting tribute to the health service as it celebrates 70 years.” 

Prospects contract in Sandwell and West Birmingham is commissioned by NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group on behalf of West Midlands Combined Authority. It is funded by NHS England and the Work and Health Unit, which is a partnership between Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions.