This week, on 30 September, I look forward to participating in a unique meeting in Brussels. Gathered in one room will be leading politicians, patient groups and health professionals from across the EU. They are coming together to launch a unique coalition to call upon European and national policy makers to develop national plans for improving the working lives of those living with MSDs.
The annual Fit For Work Europe conference and the launch of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition promises to be an milestone development in the prioritisation of MSDs, with, we hope, implications and outcomes extending far beyond the Brussels arena, into national policymaking across the continent.
I am particularly delighted to be part of this Coalition, coming to it with the experience of our UK pilot of the national ‘Fit Note’ programme.
Creation of the Fit Note scheme in the UK, designed to help people to stay in or return to work more quickly whatever their illness, was, we believe, an innovative measure to help reduce the staggering cost of £100bn imposed on our economy by ill health – and MSDs are the second leading cause of missed work after mental health.
I am aware that my European colleagues across the EU face similar challenges and economic pressures, and I am looking forward to sharing our experiences with them at the Summit.
In the current economic climate, the challenges to health and work budgets , stretched by the growing number of people who stay out of work due to health problems represent a significant threat for national economies.
The annual Fit for Work conference will create an ideal opportunity to come together to formulate real, practical solutions to help national health systems drive changes in the policies and mobilise governments to take action. Specifically: to make more Europeans, Fit for Work.