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Clinicians welcome new service to help people living with severe mental illness find employment in Suffolk

Clinicians in Suffolk have welcomed a £1 million grant from NHS England to introduce a scheme to help people with severe mental illness find employment

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) in Suffolk will see a team of employment specialists, working with clinicians, to search for jobs and engage with employers directly on behalf of patients. They will seek to identify well-suited roles – acting as a crucial link between patients, their employers and medical teams.

The funding was awarded to expand the service into Suffolk after a successful bid was submitted by the Suffolk and North East Essex Shadow Integrated Care System (ICS) **.

Dr John Hague, an Ipswich GP who is the mental health lead for the Shadow ICS, said: “Expanding this service so that people in Suffolk can have access to this support is fantastic. Securing regular and stable employment is one of the best ways of improving someone’s happiness and can assist in overcoming mental ill health.  It allows people to meet and work with other people and gives back a sense of purpose.  In addition, there are of course benefits that it will bring to the local economy too.”

Nationally IPS has also been shown to be cost-effective.  According to a review carried out by the Centre for Mental Health they can free up as much as £6,000 per patient over 18 months that can be invested in other frontline care.

Michelle Grant-Richardson, Mental Health Programme Manager for the Shadow ICS, said: "IPS already exists across north east essex where employment specialists offer coaching and advice as well as practical tips on finding a job and preparing for interviews.  This new service for Suffolk will replicate that model."

On average, people who receive IPS show employment rates of 30-40% compared to rates in the control group of 10-12%. Those supported by IPS work significantly more hours per month, and have higher earnings and better job security, while some show reduced rates of hospital admission and less time spent in hospital.

Patients hoping to get back into work can be referred directly by their doctor or another mental health professional, and can also self-refer.  

**An Integrated Care System joins up all parts of the health and care system including GPs, hospitals, community care and social care as well as physical and mental health services. People would find it easier to access services, see more joined up care delivery and staff should find it easier to work with colleagues from other organisations.

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