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Fit For Work EuropeThe Work Foundation

Fit EU Blog

Discourse on work and wellbeing in the EU

Archive for February, 2013

Fit for Work UK proposes new measure to help health services support rheumatoid arthritis patients into work

Monday, February 18th, 2013

18 February 2012: Fit for Work UK (FfW UK) has today submitted its response to NICE’s consultation on the draft Quality Standard  for rheumatoid arthritis, the set of criteria designed to drive and measure priority quality improvements for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

FfW UK welcomes many aspects of the Quality Standard, including its commitment to annual reviews of patient condition and the provision of self-management and educational support for patients.  However, FfW UK raises concerns that despite the Government’s commitment to optimise employment outcomes of individuals with long-term conditions and the inclusion of ‘employment of people with long-term conditions’ as an indicator in the NHS Outcomes Framework, these regulations have not yet translated into clinicians’ day-to-day practice.

This is worrying as FfW UK’s study of 809 people diagnosed with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), published in December 2012, shows that maintaining work is a significant problem for people with MSDs.  Three quarters of respondents to the survey who were retired said their condition had influenced their decision to leave the labour market, with the majority retiring before reaching the age of fifty-five. Within three years of diagnosis, half of people with rheumatoid arthritis are registered as work disabled.  Inability to stay in work may have a further spillover effect into the wellbeing and financial stability of entire households. In the FfW UK study, 57.4 % of respondents who were not in work had been primary income earners before leaving their job.

FfW UK therefore proposes that NICE should enhance the service standards for diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis by including in the Standard a measure of employment outcomes of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, expressed as change in the proportion of people with rheumatoid arthritis in paid and unpaid work year on year. A local Clinical Commissioning Group measuring workability in a pilot study has highlighted the benefits of managing work outcomes in the primary care settings.

Professor Stevan Bevan, Chair of Fit For Work UK, commented:

“Employment is valued by many individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis, and those who  are willing to continue working must be supported in their ambition. Too often such supports arrives unnecessarily late, when progress of disease may be hindering work ability and limiting job choices. Clinicians in primary and secondary care should be encouraged to monitor and manage work outcomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis so as to maximise  employment opportunities and improve quality of life for these individuals.”

Fit For Work UK is a campaigning coalition established in 2011 with the aim of promoting the awareness and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) so that they are treated and understood as manageable conditions – not disabling conditions.  The Coalition brings together healthcare professionals, policy makers, employers, and patient representatives.

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Latvian National Development plan adopts FFW recommendation to prioritise MSDs

Monday, February 18th, 2013

On 20th of December 2012, the Latvian government approved the National Development plan for 2014-2020, featuring all the Fit for Work key recommendations on prevention and management of MSDs. As the most important medium-term planning document in Latvia, the plan will now include management of MSDs as one of its key priorities. This is the major step forward in the Fit for Work initiative and in improving the standard of care of MSD patients in Latvia.

Creating and developing the Coalition

FFW Latvia initiative was launched on 28th March 2012 with a key aim of creating a National MSD’s Management Program. The National Coalition includes Project Patron, Karlis Sadurskis – MEP; Project Leader Daiga Behmane – Health Economic Association; Project official partners – LV Rheum Association and Rheum Patient Organization; politicians, representatives of Healthcare Ministry, Welfare Ministry, National Health Department, LV Confederation of Employment, and other stakeholders.

At the first National Coalition Meeting on 18th of May 2012, three Task Force Groups – led by prominent Latvian opinion leaders – were established with the aims of including workability as a priority in the Latvian policy, and setting new standards of care for MSDs to reduce the extent of temporary and permanent incapacity.

Key Project Achievements:

– Latvian National Development Plan (NDP) 2014 – 2020 features early intervention and diagnosis, workability, medical and social rehabilitation.
– Model for diagnosing and treatment of arthritis within 16 weeks from first disease symptoms.
– Collecting data on occupational and rehabilitation programmes for MSDs across different authorities and stakeholders.

FFW Latvia plans for 2013 include development and implementation of a National Arthritis programme to tackle specifically autoimmune MSDs; programme for management of occupational diseases; development of HTA tool for MSDs via patient case study approach, and final submission of National MSD’s management program to the Ministry of Health.

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