Referral options for work-related conditions

Category: Advice for GPs

After talking to your patient about their health, and completing an assessment of their fitness for work, you should consider what referral options are available to support their specific needs.

NHS referral

The NHS doesn't offer a specialist referral service for assessment and investigation of occupational diseases. However, your local NHS occupational health department will be able to offer some advice on an informal basis.

You could consider referring to the specialists of choice mentioning that you're considering an occupational cause or exacerbation for your patient's medical condition. They may have an interest or expertise in occupational diseases – such as a dermatologist with a particular interest in occupational skin conditions or an ENT doctor with a specialism in noise induced hearing loss – or a colleague who can help.

Occupational health referral

Many large employers, and small and medium sized employers with risky working environments, will have occupational health provided internally or through an external company.

You could ask your patient to request a referral to their occupational health service, or add a recommendation to their fit note that "specialist occupational health assessment would be beneficial". This would trigger a referral by the employer.

Fit for Work Scotland referral

Fit for Work Scotland allows patients to speak with an occupational health professional and access a work-focused assessment for return to work recommendations.

You can refer an individual into the service through SCI Gateway, with their consent, and a case manager will talk to them about their health, assess their circumstances and create a plan to help them back into work.

More about the Fit for Work assessment