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Fit For Work EuropeThe Work Foundation

Fit EU Blog

Discourse on work and wellbeing in the EU

Archive for October, 2009

Bringing Fit for Work to the House of Commons

Friday, October 16th, 2009

On Tuesday, Dame Carol Black and I participated in a Roundtable event in the House of Commons – the seat of the British Government.  This was a well attended, lively event and I was given the opportunity to make the following speech about the Fit for Work programme:

“For last 18 months The Work Foundation has been conducting research across 23 countries examining the impact of MSDs – including Inflammatory Diseases – on labour market participation. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) was one of the conditions we examined in detail because we know that levels of work disability and withdrawal from the labour market are high among people with RA – up to 40% within 5 years of diagnosis.

We’ve been looking at the direct and indirect costs of sickness absence from work and of permanent work incapacity attributable to RA. We have also looked at the interventions which Governments, clinicians and employers can take which can keep people with RA attached to the labour market and help them lead fulfilling working lives and make their contribution to a productive economy.

We launched our report in Brussels two weeks ago and we are trying to influence both National Governments and the European Commission to support steps which maximise the Labour Market participation of people with RA. We are doing some of this Advocacy work in collaboration with EULAR.

A key issue (one of many) is that current employment legislation in EU does not recognise MSDs which are not caused by work. Manual handling (CLBP) and Display screen equipment (WRULDs) are in scope – but the duty of care to support those with pre-existing conditions – such as RA – where poor working conditions can make these conditions worse, is currently out of scope.

Good Work is good for health: this includes control over tasks, control over pace & time; manageable physical work demands & an ergonomically suitable working environment; flexibility of working time.

We must reverse the focus of policy & practice from Incapacity to Capacity – the UK ‘fit note’ idea is intended to reinforce this message.

People with MSDs – including RA – can also experience periods of depression or anxiety which can complicate the process of returning to work. Policy-makers, clinicians & employers need to build this into the way they manage job retention & return to work (RTW).

Up to 30% of people with RA avoid disclosing their condition to their employer or colleagues – part of the self-stigma experienced by many.

Early Interventions can be critical, for example:

  • Accurate & early diagnosis
  • Early access to treatments and therapies – especially if early symptoms can be arrested and remission achieved
  • NAO data shows that early treatment brings economic & productivity benefits
  • TWF shows that early intervention can prolong careers and delay premature withdrawal from the labour market and that there is an economic ‘premium’ to early intervention.

There is considerable political focus on incapacity in the UK at the moment, especially as we are seeking to reduce public expenditure. However, as long as the debate has a punitive tone and is dominated by speeches and newspaper articles which focus on getting the feckless & ‘workshy’ off benefits and back into work, we are going to struggle to address the far more serious issue of how we avoid people with long-term and chronic health conditions becoming detached from the labour market until way after this recession is over.

During the Fit for Work study I’ve met hundreds of people with RA and other inflammatory conditions. None have been feckless or ‘workshy’. Most have been energetic, passionate, proud, determined, analytical, resourceful and dignified. I have been privileged & humbled to work with them & I am all too aware of the talent that goes to waste if people like this are lost to the world of work.”

Posted in Early Intervention, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Organisations, Policy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | 1 Comment »
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Gaining momentum… Launch of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on MSDs, and Fit for Work in the Lancet

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Fit for Work truly seems to have ‘caught a  wave’.  After a launch such as we just had for Fit for Work, one always wonders what the best next steps should be to keep up the momentum, and it’s fantastic when others are working towards the same goals.  So I’m delighted to note that one of our patrons in the European Parliament, Mrs Edite Estrela, MEP, is helping us to do just that.  She today hosted the launch of an interest group on MSDs in at the Parliament in Brussels.  She notes in the invitation we saw that the “key goal of the Interest Group should be to ensure the greatest possible visibility for rheumatic (and we presume broader MSDs, since the interest group’s title covers both…) diseases on the European Parliament’s agenda and systematic consideration of the needs of professionals and patients across Europe in all relevant initiatives and legislative acts at European level.”

Equally exciting is an editorial on Fit for Work  in The Lancet, available in the journal and here online.

Posted in Europe, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Rheumatoid Arthritis | Comments Off on Gaining momentum… Launch of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on MSDs, and Fit for Work in the Lancet
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Is the next UK Government Fit for Work?

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Here in the UK the three main Political Parties have just completed their annual conferences – all anticipating a General Election next year and all seeking to highlight ‘eye-catching’ policy announcements. Yesterday afternoon David Cameron – leader of the Conservative Party – set out his vision for the next few years assuming he becomes our next Prime Minister.

During his speech he told the story of a man who has been signed off sick from work. He would like to work but instead he has just been put on Incapacity Benefit and forced to stay home. Could it be that this issue is becoming ‘mainstream’ at last?

Certainly, and for the last few weeks, the issue of long-term sickness and work incapacity has been high on the political agenda – though this has not always been the most enlightened of debates, as my article in the Times on Wednesday suggested.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/management/article6863702.ece

With the launch of the European Fit for Work report last week in Brussels, The Work Foundation is placing itself at the centre of the debate on work incapacity. We are calling for an enlightened and proactive approach to the management of long-term and chronic conditions among the working age population.

Yesterday, The Work Foundation briefed HM Treasury Minister Stephen Timms on our work in this area. Even after completing our research, there is still plenty of work to do to take our core messages and our call to action to opinion-leaders and decision-makers!

Please show you support by downloading and reading our call to action and pledge to get Europe Fit for Work!

Posted in Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Is the next UK Government Fit for Work?
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Read Speech from Edite Estrella MEP at FfW Pan-European Launch

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Minister Milquet, Ladies and Gentlemen; Distinguished Members of the European Parliament; Mrs Parvanova, Mrs. de la Mata, Mr Hutton, Distinguished       Guests, welcome to this reception, which marks the launch of the Fit for Work pan-European report – a remarkable analysis of the social and economic impact of musculoskeletal disorders (or MSD’s) in Europe.
(more…)

Posted in Early Intervention, Europe, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders | Comments Off on Read Speech from Edite Estrella MEP at FfW Pan-European Launch
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Read Speech by Antoniya Parvanova MEP at FfW Pan-European Launch

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear colleagues and friends, thank you very much for being here with us tonight and welcome to the European Parliament.”
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Posted in Europe, Health Policy | Comments Off on Read Speech by Antoniya Parvanova MEP at FfW Pan-European Launch
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Show Your Support

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!

Read or download our call to action and pledge to get Europe Fit for Work!
(more…)

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Posted in Early Intervention, Europe, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy, Rehabilitation, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Show Your Support
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Read Jan Jařab’s Speech from the FfW Pan-European Launch

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

“FIT FOR WORK” reception, 30 September 2009, speech by Jan Jařab, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner Vladimír Špidla

Honourable Members of the European Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure – and honour – to forward to you the greetings of Commissioner Vladimír Špidla, and to congratulate you in his name on the valuable report which is being launched today.
(more…)

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Posted in Europe, Health Policy | Comments Off on Read Jan Jařab’s Speech from the FfW Pan-European Launch
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Read Isabel de la Mata’s Speech from the FfW Pan-European Launch

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Fit for Work pan-European Report Presentation and policy Workshop 30 October

Minister Milquet, Ladies and Gentlemen; Distinguished Members of the European Parliament; Mrs Estrela, Mrs Parvanova, Mr Hutton, Distinguished Guests, many thanks for inviting me to take part in this reception and briefly present to you the work of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers of the European Commission;
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Posted in Europe, Health Policy, Labour policy | Comments Off on Read Isabel de la Mata’s Speech from the FfW Pan-European Launch
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Read and Download the FfW Call to Action

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Policymakers, employers, health professionals, and patients must act collectively to ensure
continued active participation in work and society and a high quality of (working) life. These are
the preconditions for both physical and mental health, fulfilment, prosperity and social cohesion.

Read and download the call to action below:

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Posted in Early Intervention | Comments Off on Read and Download the FfW Call to Action
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