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Archive for the ‘Musculoskeletal Disorders’ Category

Musculoskeletal Disorder and the Irish Labour market report

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Musculoskeletal Disorder and the Irish Labour market report

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Latvian Presidency Conference focuses on Health & Work

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

As The Work Foundation’s research has demonstrated, the health of the working age population across the EU is likely to represent a major economic and social burden over the next 20-30 years. In a context in which chronic conditions are imposing an increasingly significant burden on our healthcare systems, and where only 3 per cent of EU health spending is allocated to prevention, new approaches throughout the continuum of care (from early prevention to recovery) are urgently required.

Last week The Work Foundation, through our Fit for Work initiative, hosted a major conference to showcase innovative approaches from across the EU to maximising ‘workability’ among people with chronic illness. The conference – Healthcare Solutions to Improve Workability – was endorsed by the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Riga Stradins University and we were delighted to welcome Dr Guntis Belēvičs, Minister of Health and Mr Uldis Augulis, Minister of Welfare who opened the event.

We heard contributions from Poland, Spain, Latvia, Germany and Austria, together with presentations from both the OECD and WHO Europe.

In addition, at a meeting of national representatives of Fit for Work Coalitions from across Europe, we had presentations from The Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic, Belgium and the USA. We also launched a new paper looking at the economic benefits of early healthcare interventions which help people with MSDs to stay in work. This paper shows that early, work-focused interventions can reduce sick leave and lost work productivity among workers with MSDs by more than 50 per cent, reduce healthcare costs by up to two-thirds, reduce disability benefits costs by up to 80 per cent, reduce the risk of permanent work disability and job loss by up to 50 percent, reduce the risk of developing a co-morbid mental illness and deliver societal benefits by supporting people with work-limiting chronic conditions to optimise their functional capacity and maintain economic independence.

The debate in Latvia focused very much on the practical steps we need to take to convince policymakers, clinicians and employers to re-double their efforts to prioritise early return to work for people with chronic health problems through earlier intervention and through vocational rehabilitation support.

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Care planning and musculoskeletal conditions in the UK

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Commenting on the NHS Mandate and the latest findings of Arthritis Research UK, Dr Laura Boothman, Policy Manager, says:

“Our new analyses of national survey data indicate that, despite the Mandate commitment, just 12% of people with a musculoskeletal condition currently have a care plan. There is an opportunity for many more people to benefit.” Read more on The Work Foundation blog.

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People with chronic MSDs compromising their health to keep their jobs, new report reveals

Friday, September 5th, 2014

The government, the NHS, and employers are failing to provide the necessary support for people with chronic MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders)* to stay in work. This is according to a new report released today (Friday 5th September) by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation and the Fit for Work UK Coalition. The findings also indicate that some patients are putting their health at risk to hold on to their jobs.

Update: Commenting on the report, Sue Browning, deputy chief executive of the CSP, said: “Physiotherapists are experts at keeping people healthy in work, or facilitating a return after sickness absence, and it is very important that employers provide staff with fast access to occupational health services (…) The NHS should also make self-referral to physiotherapy available across the country”. Read the full statement of Sue Browning on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website.

Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation and founding president of Fit for Work UK, said: “Workers with MSDs often find themselves fighting a lonely battle to remain in work. The government, employers and clinicians should make it a priority to support them to remain in employment after diagnosis”.

Currently, Britain is losing 30.5 million working days a year to MSDs, which are the leading cause of sickness absence, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)**. Today’s paper shows that employers, in particular small organisations, have little knowledge about government schemes such as “Access to Work” and are insufficiently prepared to manage chronic conditions in the workplace. Many workers admit to being reluctant to ask for help from their line managers for fear of stigma, negative judgement and job loss. Others said they had to involve their union to get the necessary support or move into self-employment.

The interviews conducted for the report released today highlight that, unless action is taken, individuals’ health conditions and quality of life will continue to be damaged by work, with some leaving the labour market prematurely. The consequence of the status quo is an increase in productivity loss, sickness absence and, ultimately, the welfare bill.

One employee interviewed in the report said: “Last year, the team were very understaffed some individuals went off sick. I think the pressure to try and do other people’s jobs as well as your own just got too much for me. It was a very stressful time to me and that made my illness a lot worse”. Another explained: “It’s a bit rule by fear in this department these days. They’ll try and get rid of you if you’ve been off too long with your health”.

Kate Summers, research officer at The Work Foundation, commented: “Individuals with chronic MSDs will go to great lengths to remain in work. They will give up aspects of their family and social life, and they will even take roles below their skill set. This is because work can bring many benefits – be they financial, psychological or social. These benefits are undermined if individuals are working in a environment that is not good for their health”.

The report makes four recommendations: 1. The government should increase participation to initiatives like “Access to Work” and should provide extra assistance for employees working in small and medium enterprises; 2. The government should also ensure that work is viewed as a “clinical outcome” by clinicians and invest in more “specialist nurse” roles; 3. Employers should consider all necessary workplace adjustments and offer career development opportunities for people with chronic MSDs; 4. Clinicians should view it as part of their role to ask patients about their work lives.

The authors of the paper also added that they welcome the government’s new Health and Work Service in England and Wales, but that it needs to focus on sustained return to work outcomes.

The report is being previewed on Friday at the conference “Self care & resilience: How we can care?” organised by the College of Medicine at the King’s College, in London

– ENDS –

Notes to the Editors:

1. Kate Summers, research officer, is available for interviews, briefings and written comment. 3. The paper is part of a national campaign led by Fit for Work UK, informing the public debate on dealing with the growing burden of MSDs and calling for coordinated action across all main political parties in the UK. 4. *Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) cover around 200 disorders that affect the joints, bones, muscles and connective tissues. MSDs include back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, injuries caused by trauma, such as fractures, and other conditions that are the result of genetic or developmental abnormalities, as well as bone and soft tissue cancer. 5. ** The “Sickness Absence in the Labour Market” report. 6. The Fit for Work UK Coalition is an active partnership of healthcare professionals, policymakers, employers and advocacy groups founded in 2007. It supports people with long-term conditions, particularly musculoskeletal conditions. Their members are: AbbVie, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), BT Group, Capita, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS), National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), The Work Foundation, and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). 7. Lancaster University’s Work Foundation transforms people’s experience of work and the labour market through high quality applied research that empowers individuals and influences public policies and organisational practices. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

Media enquiries:

Ioana Piscociu, ipiscociu@theworkfoundation.com, 020 7976 3526, for urgent out-of-hours enquiries: 0755 178 14 06.

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Posted in FfW UK Coalition, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Physical therapy, Press Releases | Comments Off on People with chronic MSDs compromising their health to keep their jobs, new report reveals
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Fit for Work Europe Preparing for the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

On 1st January 2015 the Latvian Government assumes the Presidency of the EU Council. It does so at a crucial time, with economic recovery painfully slow and unevenly distributed among EU Member States, and with jobs (especially for the young) and productivity all high on the agenda. In addition, the new Commission will still be very new and only just beginning to establish its core priorities. This places the Latvian Presidency in a potentially very interesting position and, last week, I spent two days in the beautiful capital city of Riga meeting members of our Latvian Fit for Work Coalition and Health Ministers in the Latvian Health Ministry to discuss ways in which Fit for Work Europe can play an active part in shaping the priorities and content of the Latvian Presidency.

Daiga Behmane - Project Lead, Fit for Work Latvia

Daiga Behmane – Project Lead, Fit for Work Latvia

My visit was hosted by Daiga Behmane, Project Leader of the Latvian Fit for Work Coalition, President of the Latvian Association of Health Economics and lecturer at Riga Stradins University. Daiga brings considerable experience and insight to the work of the Coalition and is well-placed to bring the Fit for Work messages alive to stakeholder in Latvia about early intervention, the need to prioritise health as a clinical outcome and the need to regard health spending which leads to improved workability as an investment rather than a cost. These were some of the messages which Daiga and I took to the Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Health, Egita Pole, and some of her senior officials. We discussed whether some of these principles might be reflected in the priorities of the Latvian Presidency as well as our plans to run a high level event on chronic conditions and work – featuring MSDs – as part of the Presidency programme.

In other meetings I enjoyed an excellent discussion with Prof Daina Andersone of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital, a very eminent Latvian rheumatologist who has strong views about the need to treat young people with inflammatory MSDs as early as possible to help them manage their conditions and successfully move from education to employment. I also met with Dr Jelena Reste. Jelena is an Occupational Physician at Riga Stradins University and a member of the Latvian FfW Coalition. She has been conducting research on MSDs in Latvia and has access to some useful data and research on the prevalence of MSDs in Latvia’s working age population. She and her colleagues have been doing some excellent research on workplace interventions as well as a project on the cost-effectiveness of self-management initiatives.

The challenge for Latvia is that state spending on healthcare has recently fallen below 3 per cent of GDP – a low figure compared with many other countries. This makes it more difficult to make persuasive arguments that investing in workforce health in the short-term will bring wider economic and social benefits in the medium-term. Despite this, the Fit for Work Coalition in Latvia is well-positioned and well-respected and we hope that the weight of evidence and good examples from both within and outside Latvia will help show that prevention – especially in the case of workforce health – is better than cure. For more details on our recommendations for the health and work officials in Latvia you might want to take a look at our evidence-based report.

>> Take a look at our Position Paper for the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council.

>> Daiga Behmane spoke at the Fit for Work 2013 Summit in October. You may check her presentation here.

>> Follow us on Twitter @FfWEurope  @StephenBevan

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Posted in Europe, Health Economics, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy | 1 Comment »
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Ageing, Health and Work: The Need for True Grit

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

 

Prof Stephen Bevan, Founding President of Fit for Work Europe

Prof Stephen Bevan, Founding President of Fit for Work Europe

 

This week I had the pleasure of attending the first Uppsala Health Summit in the beautiful University City of Uppsala in Sweden. The theme of the conference was ageing and health and I was invited to speak on behalf of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition.

The event, hosted by the University of Uppsala, was first addressed by Mr Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s Minister for Social Security who presented some compelling data about demographics in Sweden. Among other things, he explained that the data on ageing among the Swedish population also masked a significant reduction in inequality in life expectancy. While an inequality gap still exists Sweden has succeeded in reducing some of the negative impact of the main social determinants of ill-health.

Later in the day I presented as part of a panel session on the use of technology, diagnostics and screening to improve health outcomes for older people. My focus was on the need to regard early diagnosis and early intervention for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as an investment rather than a cost, especially if the outcomes had a wider societal value (such as the ability to remain in work). I used the example of narrow policy and financial silos which, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis in the UK, the economic case for NHS investment in early treatment was made very forcibly by the National Audit Office (NAO) back in 2009. Despite this, the NHS has not prioritised early intervention, thereby forgoing the threefold return on investment in labour productivity which the NAO economic model predicted. One participant at the conference likened this example to the annual debate in Sweden about the cost of gritting roads and pavements. Local authorities are under pressure to minimise the cost of gritting, but the health system then has to bear the cost of older Swedes suffering injuries, fractures and trauma from slips and falls on icy surfaces. As the delegate concluded, the evidence that gritting is cost-effective is clear, but politicians choose to pursue short-term savings instead of doing ‘the right thing’.

I argued that the judicious use of diagnostic technologies and medical interventions which can help older workers with chronic conditions to remain active and at work – especially if this was good quality work – would enhance the health of individuals and improve workforce productivity. In addition, I reminded delegates that a high proportion (up to 65%) of working age people with MSDs are the main income earner in their household and that having to leave the labour market prematurely as a result of poor health can have dire financial consequences for individuals and their families. My plea to the conference was to ensure that healthcare decision-makers routinely consider that remaining in work might be a clinically and socially desirable outcome for older patients and that, as we all have to work longer and retire later, this consideration will become a necessity rather than an optional extra.

In many ways, the resolution to this dilemma lies in being clear about both who pays for these interventions and who stands to benefit. As we heard at our Fit for Work Summit in October 2013, it is possible for different parts of the system (eg Health & Social Security) to share both the costs and the benefits of joined-up interventions rather than just opting for the cheapest, short-term option. As one delegate suggested, our politicians have a democratic mandate to make common-sense decisions where spending leads to savings. It is a shame, he reflected, that so few have the political bravery to put these principles into practice – especially as so many stand to benefit.

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Making the economic case for Early Intervention with MSDs

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Last month I spoke at the 1st Macedonian and 4th Adriatic Congress on Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research in the beautiful resort of Ohrid in Macedonia. The Congress examined a range of topics relating to healthcare decision-making in the lower-income countries of the Adriatic and Balkans region. These included the contribution of health insurance to the cost-effective use of medicines, the health economics of personalised medicines and case studies of health technology assessment practices (HTA) in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Fit for Work has also conducted a series of case studies on the Societal Perspective in HTA).

Days lost to MSDs in Slovenia

Days lost to MSDs in Slovenia

My presentation focused on the issue of early healthcare interventions which promote workability and labour market participation. I used Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) as an example and also focused on the Fit for Work research we have conducted in Slovenia to illustrate my conclusions.

In Slovenia, as illustrated by the graph below, MSDs account for a very large proportion of days lost to sickness absence – 2.5 million each year.

Almost 49 per cent of Slovenian workers report work-related back pain, and over 38 per cent of Slovenian workers report that they have experienced muscular pain in their neck, shoulders and upper limbs. There are over 13,000 people with RA – with an annual cost of treatment of €126m. Unlike some countries, the social insurance system in Slovenia extends support to people with MSDs which are not caused by work or workplace injuries (unlike some Worker Compensation schemes around the world). This means that vocational rehabilitation is an important priority. However, there can be delays in accessing treatment which supports return to work (eg physiotherapy, spa therapy, drug treatments) because referral rates to secondary care – especially Orthopaedic specialists in the case of people with MSDs – by GPs are very high, causing long waiting times. As yet GPs in Slovenia – as in most countries – do not have any incentive to regard work as a clinical outcome of care or as a commissioning priority. In addition, there are few incentives in the welfare system for people to remain in work as the disability replacement wage rate id quite high.

My presentation, however, indicated that earlier intervention for Slovenian workers with MSDs could result in an additional 2,800 being available for work each day. This estimate was derived from data produced by Dr Juan Angel Jover and his colleagues in Madrid where an early intervention clinic for people with MSDs reduced temporary work disability by 39 per cent. With the potential for such significant increases in productive capacity and human capital utilisation, I argued that the economic and social benefits of early clinical interventions should be disseminated widely to clinicians and healthcare decision-makers.

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Fit for Work Korea research launched in National Assembly in Seoul

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

As the Fit for Work programme extends beyond its western European origins it has been fascinating to explore how different countries manage the consequences of chronic ill-health in their working age populations. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Fit for Work report in Seoul. Like many other Asia-Pacific countries, Korea faces a number or pressing demographic and labour market challenges such as ageing which will have profound economic and social consequences. For the research underpinning the Korean report The Work Foundation partnered with Prof Sunwon Kwon and Prof Jongwook Won who, with colleagues, reviewed the Korean literature and data sources on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and drafted the report.

Prof Bevan speaking at the launch of the Fit for Work Korea

Prof Bevan speaking at the launch of the Fit for Work Korea

Prof Kwon represents the Graduate School of Business at Sookmyung Women’s University and is an expert in labour relations. Prof Won has a background in occupational medicine and is based at the school of medicine at Yonsei University. The excellent final report was launched at a well-attended seminar hosted in the National Assembly in Seoul, hosted by two eminent members of the Assembly – Congresswoman Jaongae Han (member of the labour Committee) and Congressman Yongik Kim (member of the Health & Welfare Committee).

Core findings from the Fit for Work research in Korea show that:

  • The proportion of the total number of compensated occupational diseases in Korea accounted for by MSDs increased from 49.6 per cent in 2003 to 76.5 per cent in 2007.
  • The total cost of work-related MSDs increased from ₩105.3 billion in 2004 to ₩163.3 billion in 2007.
  • People with MSDs accounted for 69.2% of the total of all occupational diseases in 2010
  • The most common condition requiring more than one day of absence from work (caused by or exacerbated by work) was MSDs in the upper limbs (31.2%), followed by MSDs in the lower limbs (13.9%) and lumbar spine (6.9%),
  • MSDs caused directly by working conditions increased from 26.6% of all cases in 2006 to 33.4% of all cases in 2009
  • According to 2012 National Health Insurance Statistics, 14.87 million people received treatment for MSDs, accounting for 32.5% of total treatment across all conditions.
  • MSDs are the biggest cause of absence from work in Korea and account for no less than 52% of overall disorders.
The launch of the Fit for Work Coalition in Korea

The launch of the Fit for Work Coalition in Korea

The ageing labour force in Korea, together with low rates of labour productivity, are key characteristics of the labour market which policy-makers in Seoul are focused on and the Fit for Work research shines a light on the need to prioritise the health and work ability of the Korean workforce as it becomes more susceptible to chronic health problems.

However, I was convinced that opinion-leaders and policy-makers in Korea are increasingly aware of the need to take action and I am confident that the Fit for Work Korea report will make a significant contribution to the debate in the immediate future. I am hopeful that a Korean Fit for Work Coalition will soon be established to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the report influence the debate on workforce health in Korea.

The Fit for Work report on Musculoskeletal Disorders and the labour market in Korea will soon be published on the Fit for Work website.

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Thank you for sitting, Europe! It costs €240 billion a year.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The tentative and delicate green shoots of economic recovery are just about visible across some EU Member States. But a major driver of sustainable economic growth and recovery across the EU will be the speed with which these Member States can mobilise and deploy highly skilled, resilient and healthy workforces and rely on them to help deliver productivity growth and increased competitiveness. One challenge is that ageing workforces across the EU are also more likely to be constrained by a growing burden of chronic conditions which threatens work ability, productivity, social inclusion and labour market participation. Chief among these chronic conditions are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)… continue reading on the Hanover Blog

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Widening the gap of inequality. MSD – the forgotten non-communicable disease.

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

DG SANCO announced that it is going to host a summit in Brussels this April to debate innovative solutions to the growing burden of chronic diseases on the health care systems and the economy. Surprisingly enough, musculoskeletal disorders are not on their agenda. A door slammed in the face of 100 million European citizens suffering from musculoskeletal pain – one might say. To give you an idea of the dimensions of the problem, this figure is comparable with the aggregated population of Belgium, Germany and Austria. Actually, in excess of 40 million people are of working-age and have an MSD cause by their work. To make things worse, evidence-based studies conducted within Fit for Work Europe, through The Work Foundation, and elsewhere by organisations such as Eumusc.net and even the European Commission, show that the EU economy loses €240bn to MSD annually. MSD is also the leading cause of sickness absence in the EU, accounting for half of all absences from work lasting three days or longer and 60% of permanent job loss.

Yet the European institutions seem to have turned a blind eye to MSDs. Neither the European Commission, nor the World Health Organisation classifies MSDs as serious non-communicable diseases. Why is that? One can speculate that MSDs, unlike cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, are not considered to be a major cause of death. It is a fact, though, that MSDs can seriously contribute to the increase of mortality rates. People living with an MSD incur the risk of developing other conditions such as mental health problems – 30% of people with MSDs also have depression – obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Allegedly, policy-makers have given little priority to MSDs because of insufficient cross-country data. One might argue that most people with MSDs are treated in outpatient settings and that most health information systems are rather designed to provide data about inpatient care.  It could also be claimed that MSD diagnoses are recorded differently in various member states, which makes it difficult to draw comparable conclusions. However, in recent years considerable progress has been made in capturing and processing comprehensive data related to MSDs. To name just a few sources, the Global Burden of Diseases and Eumusc.net have released hefty reports on the societal and economic impact of MSDs.

In addition, Fit for Work Europe has been working for five years now to promote the prioritisation of MSDs amongst the most harmful non-communicable diseases and the implementation of healthcare and workplace interventions that support  job retention and return to work for people living with MSDs. With an evidence base of over 30 studies conducted in Europe, Fit for Work is currently testing practical solutions to MSDs in several members states (Spain, the UK, Latvia, Portugal, Lithuania). 

The first results of the Early Intervention pilot that ran in Spain clearly indicates that an earlier, more sustained recovery for working age citizens suffering from MSDs can highly contribute towards increased cost savings for the economy, easing the strain on the health care systems and increasing the labour market participation. As featured in the Parliament Magazine (p. 27), the Spanish pilot showed a 50% reduction in permanent work disability (people leaving work completely), a 39% decrease in temporary work disability (people having sick days from work as a result of their condition) and a 40% reduction in sanitary costs. In addition, it highly increased patient satisfaction, whilst the cost-benefit analysis revealed a two-year return of more than €10 for each €1 invested in the programme.

Fit for Work summons DG SANCO not to be oblivious to an innovative solution like Early Intervention, which could benefit not only the Europeans living with MSDs, but also people with other chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and mental health disorders.

>>> Check independent expert opinions about MSDs and Early Intervention featured in a video from the Fit for Work 2013 Summit

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Fit for Work Europe patient case study:Ann Christin from Norway

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

After trying to get answers for about twelve years and losing my job over a diagnosis that.. (does not exist).. I found a way.
Watch the full story from Ann Christin on fighting her condition and work disability:

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“Going back to work made me feel alive again.” Fit for Work Patient case study: Purificación Tejeda from Spain

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Purification Tejeda, a patient suffering from extreme pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, described how she benefitted from the support of an early intervention clinic: “I was so scared about the impact it would have on my personal working life. I was given the right diagnosis, treatment and care very quickly and this helped to take away my unbearable pain. Thanks to this clinic, I can go back to work again. Work is so important to me. It makes me feel useful and responsible. I feel alive again.”

Watch Purificación Tejeda’s full story on fighting her condition and work disability:

Posted in Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Physical therapy, Rehabilitation | 1 Comment »
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Good Health? Yes Minister – whatever your portfolio

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

It may sound trite, but the old saying that ‘every minister should be a Health Minister’ has never been more true than today. It’s obvious, to me at least, that ministers overseeing planning and transport policy, for example, should be thinking about the opportunities they have to help citizens walk or cycle safely. Finance Ministers should consider whether some citizens’ wellbeing is disproportionately compromised by austerity measures and Employment Ministers should routinely think about ways of helping those with chronic ill health or disabilities have access to fulfilling working lives if they aspire to them.

All sounds very utopian, doesn’t it? Yet if we are to develop more strategic and joined-up approaches to preventative public health, this is exactly the kind of thinking that we need to encourage among policymakers across all developed Western economies. The fact that we are doing everything we can to minimise, control and reduce healthcare costs is a sign of the austere and narrowly-focused times we live in and perhaps we should think more about where we ‘invest’ for longer term benefit rather than just cutting to hit a short-term budget target. Currently, spending on preventative healthcare across all EU member states represents only 3% of the total, while over 70% is spent on managing the care of people with chronic conditions – an increasing number of whom will be of working-age. Unless we find ways of investing in proactive and joined-up health initiatives which are about town planning, employment and public health, we will find that the much-celebrated capacity of our health system to treat people once they become ill will run out of resources.

This week in Brussels, The Work Foundation, through our Fit for Work Europe Coalition, is hosting a major summit on this very theme. Called Investing in Healthcare: Breaking down the Silos, endorsed by the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU and featuring contributions from eminent speakers such as Vytenis Andriukaitis, Health Minister, Lithuania,  Dr Roberto Bertolini of the World Health Organisation Europe; Dame Carol Black, Co-President of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition; Gianni Pittella, Vice-President, European Parliament  and Dr. F. Jesús Alvarez Hidalgo, Principal Administrator, Unit Heath, Safety and Hygiene at Work, DG EMPL,  European Commission  this event will highlight examples from across the EU of innovative thinking which suggests that a ‘Health in all policies’ approach may still be possible and certainly desirable.

Our specific interest in this event is to showcase what can happen if the health needs of people of working-age are prioritised so that they can benefit from quicker diagnosis, earlier interventions which allow them to remain active in the labour market and support from employers which allows them to access and flourish in good quality and secure jobs. We will hear examples from Latvia, Sweden, Ireland, Spain and Germany. We’ll also be challenging policymakers both in Brussels and in national governments to act now to break down policy thinking in silos which prevent joined-up and forward-looking action which just might stand a chance of defusing the public health time bomb which we all know is ticking away.

 

 

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New year, new tools – FfW leading the way on demonstrating burden of MSDs!

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Since 2007, the Fit for Work programme has looked at the impact of MSDs on individuals’ ability to work in 30 European and beyond. Now that we have collected data from all over Europe, we are beginning to understand why some countries perform better at tackling the impact of MSDs on the economy and the society. We see strong evidence for the connection between prevalence of long-term illness, labour market indicators and the country’s economic performance.
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Fit for Work Europe Annual Conference – don’t miss out!

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

FfW Conference 2011 Reminder

Posted in Europe, Health Economics, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy | Comments Off on Fit for Work Europe Annual Conference – don’t miss out!
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FfW Conference 2011 Agenda

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Fit for Work Europe – Annual Conference – 19 October 2011 Event Agenda

Posted in Europe, Health Economics, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy | Comments Off on FfW Conference 2011 Agenda
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Fit for Work report launch in Romania

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

This week I was in Bucharest to launch the Romanian ‘Fit for Work’ report. The setting for the launch was the incredible Parliamentary Palace, second only to the Pentagon in size. It dominates the south-western part of the city and many houses, churches and a football stadium were demolished to make way for it and surrounding government buildings.
(more…)

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View & download resource pack from EU Presidency Conference

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The Burden of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

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Call on policymakers to recognise socio-economic impact of RMDs

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Today in Budapest, people living with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) joined leaders in rheumatology from across the EU to demand that policymakers acknowledge the impact RMDs have on a person’s ability to participate in society and so create national plans to address the burden of RMDs.

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Posted in EULAR, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Press Releases, Rheumatoid Arthritis | 2 Comments »
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Download agenda for EU Presidency Conference on MSDs

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

This week, the Fit for Work Europe Coalition is hosting an EU Presidency Conference together with The Hungarian Association of Rheumatologists (MRE), The Ministry of National Resources (Government of Hungary) and The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). The Conference will centre on the impact of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) at EU and national level, as well as ensuring the EU’s Disability Strategy gives due focus to RMDs in the workplace across the EU.

You can download the agenda below for the programme: “Burden of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases: Challenges in Work Capacity and Prevention of Disability in the EU”.

For further details, please contact the Fit for Work Europe Secretariat.

The Burden of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

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New interactive tools demonsrate burden of MSDs across Europe

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Since 2007, the Fit for Work initiative has looked at the impact of MSDs on individuals’ ability to work in 30 countries in Europe and beyond. Now that we have collected data from all over Europe, we are beginning to understand why some countries perform better at tackling the impact of MSDs on the economy and the society. We see strong evidence for the connection between prevalence of long-term illness, labour market indicators and the country’s economic performance.

(more…)

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Fit for Work at EPPOSI

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Maarten de Wit, Member of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition Steering Group, presented at the European Platform for Patients’ Organisations, Science and Industry workshop on Chronic Conditions on 10 December 2010. See his presentation below:

Fit for Work Europe at the EPPOSI (European Platform for Patients’ Organisations, Science and Industry) Wor…

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Best-Practice Sharing

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

This Fit for Work presentation is a working document, designed to capture an overview of successes at EU and at in-country level.  If you would like a copy to use in Fit for Work activities, or to receive a copy of the template to record your own activities, please email us.
Fit for Work Europe National Best Practices

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Early Intervention Keeps Phil on Course

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The news that World No 2 golfer Phil Mickelson has been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis brings into sharp relief the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory conditions if people are to stand the best chance of living normal lives and staying in work.
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Building alliances in Ireland – The Work Foundation and Arthritis Ireland go ‘Fit for Work’

Monday, May 17th, 2010

We continue to take the ‘Fit for Work’ messages to National Governments wherever we can. Already, since the launch of the Irish report, we have briefed two prominent Irish Government Ministers. We have, among other things, called for a National Clinical Director for MSDs together with the formulation of a National Service Framework on MSDs in order to cement the clinical and labour market priority which Ireland should be given to MSDs in Ireland.

Last week I was a ‘witness’ – together with John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland – at a session of the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the Irish Parliament – the rough equivalent of a Select Committee here in the UK. I presented the Irish ‘Fit for Work’ report and John and I were questioned for an hour by several Deputies and Senators, who were very interested in the implications of our research for Irish labour market policy.

Earlier in the day Jim Higgins MEP hosted a lunch session in conjunction with Arthritis Ireland for TDs and other opinion-leaders which also focused on the findings and implications of the Irish ‘Fit for Work’ report. Chaired by John Church, the audience heard presentations from Mr Higgins who focused on the growing awareness of the MSD issue in Brussels and Geraldine McCarthy, and eminent Rheumatologist. I also presented the main Fit for Work report findings and talked the audience through our main recommendations. A good debate followed which, among other things, covered the wider labour market status of people with disabilities, the potential for a UK-style ‘Fit Note’ in Ireland and the impact of Health Technology Assessment on access to drug therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

There is a real sense of momentum in Ireland and clear evidence that many of the ‘Fit for Work’ messages are having an impact on the way policy-makers are thinking.

Posted in Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Building alliances in Ireland – The Work Foundation and Arthritis Ireland go ‘Fit for Work’
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A good day for people with MSDs in Europe

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Today was a busy day for those of us keen to spread the word about MSDs at work. In London the Work Charter was launched by the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance. The Work Foundation is happy to support it as it strongly echoes messages from our own Fit for Work? Research which has looked at the factors which help or hinder full participation at work among the 6.5 million UK citizens who have MSDs. There was good coverage of the report on the BBC website.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, I was presenting the results of our EU research to a ‘special interest group’ of MEPs in the European Parliament. Also presenting was Mr. Armindo Silva Head of Unit Social Protection and Inclusion Policies, Employment and Social Affairs Directorate. He explained how the new Directive of MSDs was being drafted and consulted on. I presented some of the key findings of the Fit for Work Europe report, highlighting in particular the need to focus on early intervention. Several MEPs spoke in favour of our findings on the links between MSDs and Mental Health and expressed interest in hearing more on this topic. Finally, Mr Marios Kouloumas, Chairman of Eular-PARE – speaking on behalf of people with Rheumatic diseases – explained the importance of taking into account the patient perspective in policy-making, emphasizing that Rheumatic and inflammatory conditions are not caused by work, but can make staying at work difficult if insufficient support is available. This was a very important point because the forthcoming MSD Directive only covers MSDs which are caused by work and not, by definition, Rheumatic conditions. I find this troubling, and it remains to be seen how this serious omission is dealt with by the European Commission.

Posted in Early Intervention, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders | Comments Off on A good day for people with MSDs in Europe
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‘Talking’ Therapies

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I recently spotted coverage of this research, published in The Lancet. It suggests that ‘talking therapies’ such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), especially in group settings, can have a positive impact on recovery from chronic low back pain.

This chimes with the findings of our Fit for Work research which has sought to emphasise the importance of understanding the mental health issues frequently faced by people with MSDs. We found that, for some people, being diagnosed with a chronic condition can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. As a result, people at work might fear disclosing their condition to their employer. In addition, there is evidence that poor mental health can be a bigger barrier to rapid and successful return to work than the physical symptoms of an MSD.

At the launch of our European report in September 2009, Professor Jover from Spain presented data which illustrated that an early intervention for MSDs patients which included a CBT component made a significant difference to return to work rates and yielded a notable economic return. In the autumn of 2010 The Work Foundation will be publishing the results of a further study which is examining the links between chronic conditions and mental health in more detail. Watch this space!

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Fit for Work in Israel

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

This week I will be in Israel, having meetings and conducting interviews with national experts and public policy officials. Among those I’ll be meeting will be Prof. Tishler, Chair of the Israeli Rheumatology Physicians Union, Ron Wisinger- of the Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene, Nachum Izkovich, CEO of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Vered Swid, Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister on Social and Welfare Affairs and Elliot Rosenberg, Head of the Department of Occupational Health in the Ministry of Health. I’ll also be catching up with my old friends Michael Yakuel and Ofra Balaban of Inbar – the Patient’s organisation.

As we finalise the Israeli Fit for Work? report, this visit will allow me to add to our understanding of the labour market status of people with MSDs and the support available to them as they try to live fulfilling working lives. I’m expecting to learn a lot.

Posted in Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Organisations, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Fit for Work in Israel
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The European Fit for Work discussions continue…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Last week I attended two important events which focused on inflammatory conditions. The first was on Monday in London and was a conference organised by the National Audit Office (NAO) – an independent organisation which reports to the British Parliament on the effectiveness with which public money is being spent.

Earlier this year the NAO produced an influential report examining the quality of services for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I was a member of the Advisory Group for the project, along with other friends of the Fit for Work? project such as Professor Paul Emery and Neil Betteridge of EULAR, and Ailsa Bosworth of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS). Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, and herself a Rheumatologist, presented persuasively on the need to keep ‘work’ at the centre of the debate. I spoke on a panel discussion during the conference and emphasised the need to optimise early diagnosis and treatment – not just for clinical reasons – but to give people with Rheumatoid Arthritis the best chance of staying in and returning to work.

The second event was in Madrid on Wednesday evening and it focused on recent research (called Salud y Trabajo) conducted on the impact of inflammatory conditions on work disability in Spain conducted by TAISS and led by Pablo Lazaro. The event also featured two short films, made by independent film-makers, which told the compelling stories of two people recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis respectively. One of the aims of the event was to inform members of the audience about the impact of these conditions on both everyday functioning and on personal relationships. I hope to make these films available on the Fit for Work? website very soon.

Posted in EULAR, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Organisations, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on The European Fit for Work discussions continue…
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The Work Foundation @ European Parliament RMSD interest group

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Today I attended the first full meeting of the RMSD Interest Group in the European Parliament in Brussels. This group, initiated by EULAR, and chaired by Mrs Edite Estrela MEP (Portugal) was launched on World Arthritis Day in October this year. One of its aims is to raise the profile of Rheumatic conditions and MSDs in the Parliament and in the Commission and to help position EULAR as the authoritative source of clinical and patient voice.

The Group has a number of MEPs as members, including Jim Higgins (Ireland), Antoniya Parvanova (Bulgaria) and Marije Cornelissen (Netherlands). Senior figures from EULAR and EULAR-PARE represented included Professor Paul Emery, Professor Josef Smolen and Neil Betteridge.

The Group was addressed by Dr Gigorij Kogan, Scientific Officer from DG Research and a specialist in chronic disease. He described some of the research into rheumatic diseases and MSDs which the EU had funded during recent years and explained how research priorities were decided. The Group discussed whether rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases were receiving enough priority given their prevalence and their economic and social impact.

The next meeting of the Group will be in March 2010 when the topic for discussion will be ‘Work’. The Fit for Work programme has been asked to provide input to this meeting and we will be working with EULAR to ensure that the content is both informative and provocative!

Posted in Europe, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Organisations, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on The Work Foundation @ European Parliament RMSD interest group
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Do HTA differences help or hinder accessibility?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I attended a lunchtime Roundtable event yesterday organised by the European Policy Centre  here in Brussels. The speaker was Dr Martin Terberger, Head of Unit for Pharmaceuticals at DG Enterprise and Industry. While the focus of the discussion was the so-called ‘Pharma Package’ a set of EU proposals to deliver safe, innovative and accessible medicines, I was able to ask Dr Terberger a question about the impact which differences in Health Technology Assessment (HTA) helped or hindered accessibility, especially if one outcome was to support the labour market participation of people with long-term or chronic conditions (eg some MSDs).

He was careful to avoid using the term ‘harmonisation’ but felt that, on the science, there was more room for ‘convergence’ around the clinical evidence. He warned, however, that HTA must take care not to widen health inequalities by treating more economically ‘useful’ patients differently from, for example, elderly patients just because of differences in their productive capacity.

Posted in Europe, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Organisations, Policy, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Do HTA differences help or hinder accessibility?
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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!

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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.
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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!
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View Presentations from the FfW Launch

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Steve Bevan presents the findings from the Fit for Work pan-European report.

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MSDs responsible for more sick days than any other health condition

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Muscle and joint pain costs
European economies up to €240 billion a year

New study reveals musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) responsible for more sick days than any other health condition

Brussels, 30 September 2009 – A new study today finds that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for nearly half (49%) of all absences from work and 60% of permanent work incapacity in the European Union. These and other socio-economic consequences of suffering from poor health due to muscle and joint pain represent an estimated cost to society in Europe of up to €240 billion.
(more…)

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Musculoskeletal Disorders and the European Workforce: The Facts

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Musculoskeletal Disorders and the European Workforce: The Facts

•    Over 100 million European citizens suffer from Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain (CMP) though it remains undiagnosed in up to 40 per cent of cases.
•    Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) account for a higher proportion of sickness absence from work than any other health condition – roughly half of all work-related disorders in EU member states. (more…)

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Steve Bevan: Exciting News With One Week To Go

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Yesterday I spoke about the Fit for Work project at a conference on ‘Health and Prevention at Work’ organised by the European Confederation of            Independent Trades Unions (CESIS) in Rome. This was a great opportunity to showcase our research and debate it with people with a keen interest in workplace health and safety.
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RA and Psychosocial Stress at Work

Monday, September 7th, 2009

An interesting article caught my attention in Medical News Today which was titled “Can Psychosocial Stress At Work Put At Risk Of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis?”.  It looks at a Swedish study published in one of the latest issues of ‘Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics’ which discloses new relationships between stress at work and the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Fit for Work Goes to Turkey

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The Fit for Work project is examining the labour market status of people with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from across many countries. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Turkey to conduct a series of interviews with eminent Turkish academics and clinicians in both Istanbul and Ankara.
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Dame Carol Black, UK Department for Work and Pensions

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

From March through to May this year I spoke at Health, Work and Well-being’s Countrywide Events. The excellent health and well-being programmes on display at the events in the nine English regions, Scotland and Wales, really hit home to me just how far we have come with the health and work agenda in the last couple of years.

(more…)

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Steve Bevan: A great day for FfW in the UK

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

An exciting – and busy –  month for Fit for Work.  The Work Foundation hosted an panel discussion at the international Health Technology Assessment conference in Singapore on 23rd June: the panellists were all engaged and the debate was excellent (I had to call it to a close, and it could have run on). We had about 35 people in attendance and I think that what we achieved was to get a serious debate about work productivity on the agenda at an event where it is almost invisible.  (more…)

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Iles Braghetto, Member of European Parliament 2004 – 2009

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Last week saw the publication of our report into the Italian labour market. In this video, Iles Braghetto (MEP 2004-2009, EPP-ED, Italy) talks about the social and economic importance (more…)

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Looking Ahead to EULAR

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I am pleased to say that the first of the Fit for Work national reports has been successfully launched in Ireland on 7th May; we had a fantastic response from all that attended the event as well as getting interest from a number of media outlets on the cost of sick days caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Denmark also launched on the 12th and it was great to see some excellent national television coverage there and a high level of engagement from key opinion leaders. (more…)

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The Bone and Joint Decade endorse FfW initiative

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The Bone and Joint Decade logo

We are delighted to announce that, after their review of the Fit for Work project, the Bone and Joint Decade are formally endorsing The Work Foundation’s Fit for Work initiative.

The Bone and Joint Decade is a United Nations umbrella initiative to promote musculoskeletal health.  The Decade, launched by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on November 30 1999, has over the last 10 years helped drive public awareness of issues surrounding musculoskeletal disorders in a wide range of countries, drawing on the expertise of national academic, professional and patient organisations across the globe.

This is an exciting development and we look forward to finding ever more ways of advocating to make Europe more Fit for Work!

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Attend Fit for Work Europe symposium at EULAR

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

At the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), The Work Foundation are hosting a satellite symposium at which we will be discussing the importance of early intervention and appropriate treatment for those with musculoskeletal disorders, focusing on the importance of work when treating rheumatoid arthritis patients. This meeting is being chaired by Professor Ronald van Vollenhoven… a copy of the programme, detailing our distinguished panel can be found here.

The session takes place on Friday, 12 June, 17.30 – 19.00 in Auditorium 1, Bella Centre, Copenhagen. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Dr Tom Ling, RAND Europe

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The Fit for Work initiative is a terrific way to influence labour and social welfare policies in the studied countries as the initiative will begin to present evidence for the benefits of early intervention in the workplace. Staff, employers and policy makers can easily identify the real benefits these improvements could make.

I know from even a quick review of the emerging evidence that there is a powerful case to be made for seeing the workplace as a site for activities and interventions to support healthy working lives. For both staff and employers we can see how these opportunities for such benefits will lead to health gains outside of work and productivity gains within it.
(more…)

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John Church – Arthritis Ireland

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Today, as workers across Europe face uncertain futures and an ever more challenging job market it’s clear to us in Arthritis Ireland, and to the employers, Trades Unions and policymakers we speak to, that employee health has never been more important. It is important as a driver of productivity and competitiveness and a waste of money for those affected not to be in the workplace.  It’s a huge mistake in the 21st century not to have these people contributing to society rather than taking.

Specifically, the Fit for Work report launched today is asking tough questions about the ways that workers with long-term and chronic conditions – especially Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – can be kept in work in a way that maximises their economic contribution and their quality of life.
(more…)

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Press Release: Health of Ireland’s workforce is undermining our competitiveness

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Health of Ireland’s workforce is undermining our competitiveness

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) cause 50% of absences from work and costs Irish economy €750 million annually yet early diagnosis and intervention could keep more Irish workers Fit For Work

DUBLIN, 7th May: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including back pain, work- related upper-limb disorder and rheumatic diseases including arthritis, are the cause of 50 percent of sick days in Ireland costing the economy an estimated €750 million each year. But early detection and intervention can reduce the burden on the Government’s health and disability budgets. The report, published by The Work Foundation based in the UK, presents evidence that work is good for your health and adopting an approach that focuses on capacity rather than incapacity is also better for the employees who suffer from any of these conditions. (more…)

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Edite Estrela Video Blog

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

For more information from Edite Estrela please go to her personal blog here. You may also be interested to read an article by Edite which was published on 10th April 2009. Please go here:

Woman and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Why Fit for Work in Europe? Why now?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Today, as workers across Europe face uncertain futures and an ever more challenging job market, why do we need to focus our attention on the health of the workforce? Surely our priority should be job security and job creation? The Work Foundation – an independent, not for profit, research and consultancy organisation – has been leading the debate on health and well-being at work, especially as the recession starts to bite.

It’s clear to us, and to the employers, Trades Unions and policymakers we speak to, that employee health has never been more important. It is important as a driver of productivity and competitiveness and it is vulnerable if we fail to manage worklessness and unemployment with great care. Specifically, the Fit for Work project which we are running is asking tough questions about the ways that workers with long-term and chronic conditions – especially Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – can be kept in work in a way that maximises their economic contribution and their quality of life.
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Posted in Musculoskeletal Disorders, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Why Fit for Work in Europe? Why now?
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