The launch today of the Spanish Fit for Work report coincided with the announcement of the latest Spanish unemployment figures. They make grim reading, as predicted in our report, they passed the 20 per cent threshold which now means Spain has a level of joblessness exactly twice the EU average. What is worse, youth unemployment is close to 40 per cent, again the worst in Europe. On of the core Fit for Work messages has been that we need to avoid people with long-term or chronic health conditions becoming the first victims of a depressed labour, yet that is what seems to be happening both in Spain and elsewhere.
Over 20 per cent of all working days lost to ill health in Spain can be attributed to MSDs – about 39 million each year – at a cost of at least 1.7m euros. As in other countries, the situation will get worse as the population ages and the level of incapacity in the Spanish workforce might yet prove a barrier to the comptitiveness of its economy when the recovery comes. Urgent action is needed.
However, in the Catalolian Region of Spain, the Department of Health takes these issues very seriously – indeed the Department kindly hosted the launch event for us today. Several projects which complement the Fit for Work study have been going on in the Region and it is now in a position to initiate a ‘Master Plan’ to coordinate data, clinical practice and employment initiatives to support those with MSDs. We heard today from Xavier Suris and Marta Larrosa, co-Directors of the Plan, which is funded by the Health Department, and I am sure many of the other 16 Regions of Spain will be looking closely at their work.
We also heard from Pablo Lazaro of TAISS. He and his colleagues have been conducting a ‘Health and Work’ project looking at MSDs with which Fit for Work has been exchanging data. This is an important project as, among other things, it has been looking both at the costs of MSDs and the impact they have on hidden issues such as informal care.
Another speaker, Constanca Alberti of ICAM, presented some very comprehensive data on the impact of a range of MSDs on temporary work disability. This was a very interesting contribution as it examined differences in the rates of absence by gender, age, location and industry.
We also had a healthy debate in the session. The kinds of issues raised included the pressure on small employers not to comply with work disability and return to work regulations, the role of Physiotherapists in the prevention of MSDs and the difficulty of finding work for those with chronic health conditions given the state of the Spanish labour market. In her closing remarks, Deputy Director of the Department of Health Maria Luisa de la Puente reinforced her Department’s commitment to taking clear action to support people with MSDs.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 10:20 am and is filed under Europe, Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.