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Jane Kennedy: That experience and anecdotal evidence will help us in considering how to improve the support and advice given to people working with an individual who is experiencing a health problem, and who wants to retain their employment while doing so.

There is some good evidence on restoring function and enabling a gradual return to work, especially for certain specific health conditions, but evidence on what is truly effective vocational rehabilitation is somewhat contradictory and inconclusive. We are seeking to redress that by collecting information that will give us a solid evidential base upon which to take forward further work. There is a change in attitude among not only employers but the medical practitioners interested in this field, and a willingness to engage in dialogue with the Government to try to improve the experience of those going through such difficulties. I am certainly
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enthusiastic about this development, and I know from my work as chairman of the taskforce dealing with these matters that there is interest in it across government.

We will continue to look at various options, including how statutory sick pay impacts on people in such circumstances, in order to make these improvements. The Government are committed to making changes on a number of fronts to maximise the opportunity for people with disabilities and health conditions to stay in, or return to, work. But this is a shared agenda, and the support of employers and trade unions, as well as of individual workers themselves, is needed if we are to achieve the objective that all who participated in this useful debate share.

I have given undertakings on the specific points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-West, and I will look into the detail of the case described by the hon. Member for Guildford. I hope that our further work together on this issue will provide a little more clarity and, perhaps, encouragement to the family whose case she has described today.


Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Act:

Electoral Registration (Northern Ireland) Act 2005


Question, That this House do now adjourn, put and agreed to.

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