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Fit For Work EuropeThe Work Foundation

Fit EU Blog

Discourse on work and wellbeing in the EU

Archive for the ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’ Category

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:

Posted in Early Intervention, Health Policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Rheumatoid Arthritis | Comments Off on Fit for Work Europe patient case study:Ann Christin from Norway
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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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Posted in Early Intervention, EULAR, Europe, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Rheumatoid Arthritis | Comments Off on View & download resource pack from EU Presidency Conference
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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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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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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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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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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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Posted in Early Intervention, Europe, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Policy, Rehabilitation, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on Show Your Support
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Live Blog from FfW pan-European Launch

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

[18.30 Tom Ling]  An excellent final session that demonstrated, once and for all, the case for action on MSDs at a European and National level.  Now our task is to work together to find those concrete actions that will move this debate along and change the way we keep people Fit for Work!
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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.
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Posted in Europe, Health Policy, Labour policy, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Press Releases, Rheumatoid Arthritis, The Work Foundation | Comments Off on MSDs responsible for more sick days than any other health condition
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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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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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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.
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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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