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Archive for the ‘Physical therapy’ Category

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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“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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How physios can help GPs tackle sickness absence

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Employee ill health and sickness absence is a major drain on the UK’s productivity, with the annual cost of workplace illness estimated to be £8.2billion according to the latest Health and Safety Executive Statistics Report. But, here at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, we are convinced that physiotherapists can help bring down the number of days taken off work.

In a Department for Work and Pensions report  published last week (7 May), 98% of GPs agree that remaining in work is generally beneficial for people’s health and the overwhelming majority (95%) also believe worklessness is detrimental to health. Despite this, three quarters of GPs admit to issuing patients with fit notes (formerly sick notes) – even where there is a lack of medical evidence indicating that they should have time off work.

Part of the problem stems from  the fact 89% of GPs also say they have  not received training in health and work in the last 12 months, while only 18% have a good awareness of local services to which they can refer patients. Yet we know early access to physiotherapy can help prevent or reduce the amount of time off work a person needs following a musculoskeletal disorder, like neck or back pain.

With 131 million working days lost to sickness absence in 2011, according to the Office of National Statistics, the fit note epidemic is something we at the CSP feel needs tackling. To help physiotherapists play their part, the CSP has collaborated with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists and the College of Occupational Therapists to develop a new tool – the Allied Health Professional’s Advisory Fitness for Work Report.

While employees will still require a Statement of Fitness for Work from a doctor to claim sick pay, the new AHP Advisory Fitness for Work Report provides an opportunity for physiotherapists to assist GPs and employers.  It identifies the specific work issues a patient has as a result of their health condition, and the adjustments needed to help them to return and remain in work. For example, something as simple as letting an employee with back pain carry lighter loads until they are better can help them get back to work instead of being signed off sick.

Employers can also do a significant amount to improve the health of their workers and thereby prevent sickness absence occurring in the first place by:

• Creating a work culture where staff feel they can report stress or ill health
• Providing fast access to a physiotherapist when staff suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder – the second biggest cause of sickness absence
• Encouraging staff to develop good work habits, such as taking regular breaks and building some physical activity into their day. This can help to prevent staff becoming overly stressed – the biggest cause of sickness absence
• Ensuring staff receive appropriate work station assessments and advice on carrying out their job safely
• Providing flexible working where this is possible

In order to drive the message home to employers, their staff and healthcare professionals, the CSP has organised Workout at Work Day on 12 June. This is an annual awareness raising campaign, which aims to help both employers and staff develop healthier work habits so that sickness absence can be avoided or reduced, helping people to remain fit for work. This year, the focus will be on the need to improve workplace health in order to prepare for the demands of a longer working life.

We have produced a free leaflet, Under Pressure, looking at the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, as well as leaflets with advice for workers in sedentary jobs, Fit for Work, and more active roles, Fit for Active Work. Stay happy and healthy at work by taking up these simple tips.  Following the advice in these leaflets would significantly reduce the number of days of sickness absence and cut the cost to the UK economy – as well as improve the quality of life for anyone choosing to use them.

By Sue Browning, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


Posted in Physical therapy | Comments Off on How physios can help GPs tackle sickness absence
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The role of physiotherapists in helping people with MSDs stay in and return to work

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Employment plays a big part in keeping us healthy – going out to work is good for us, both physically and mentally. 

Common causes of sickness absence include musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain and ‘work-relevant upper limb disorders’ like Non Specific Arm Pain.  It is a myth that manual handling or repetitive movement is bad for us, but it is true that if active work is approached incorrectly, this can sometimes contribute to health conditions. Repetitive Sprain Injury can cause discomfort in the arms, wrists and shoulders. Other problems include feeling pressurised, anxious and low in mood.

Early access to physiotherapy services prevents people losing working time by providing a detailed assessment and treatment/advice to help muscles and joints remain healthy and strong. By encouraging people to concentrate on what they can do and not what they can’t do, and by recommending paying attention to what their bodies are telling them and rotating tasks and maintaining good posture, the physiotherapist will encourage an awareness of health promotion in the workplace.

Physical activity improves health and fitness bringing many benefits, enabling everyone to get the most from work and life. An active lifestyle produces more energy and boosts mood, resulting in greater alertness and higher productivity. Physiotherapists recommend that all adults should undertake 30-minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath, five times a week.  This can be broken up into three or four 10-minute chunks throughout the day.

Physiotherapists are experts in rehabilitation, helping people return to their normal activities after illness and injury, advising on
building easy, effective exercise plans into daily work routines which can be incorporated into working time. They cannot only create a plan to help fitness and health, but also consider the risk factors in the workplace, and individual life style that may be causing or contributing to health problems.

Physiotherapists understand that being active isn’t easy for everyone.  Many people have injuries or conditions that stop them from exercising easily. Others simply struggle to find the time, energy or motivation. Whatever the circumstances, some simple physiotherapy advice about how to get started and improve health in a way that’s right for each individual is available. They will work to set goals, know where to start, recommend the right kit, and promote a positive attitude, and advise on frequency, intensity, time, and the type of exercise, at work, at home or in the gym.

Wherever you are in Europe, there is a Physiotherapist waiting to assist you.

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