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Musculoskeletal disorders: The true extent of the societal burden

Musculoskeletal disorders: The true extent of the societal burden

Monday, 10 December 2012
10:00 - 12:00
The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London, SW1H 0AD


• James Wolfe, Deputy Director for Health, Work and Wellbeing, Department for Work and Pensions
• Phil Gray, Chief Executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 
• Clare Jacklin, Director of External Affairs, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
• Dr John Chisholm, RCGP Council Member and Health and Work Lead
• Stephen Bevan, Director, Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, The Work Foundation

The context:                                                   

With the Government’s response to the Sickness Absence Review expected shortly, and debate on where employment features in the proposed Commissioning Outcomes Framework, this event addressed the impact of musculoskeletal disorders and the implications for long-term health care and welfare spending.

Our new report, which was launched at the event, includes new patient survey data and is part of a major study conducted by The Work Foundation across over 30 European countries. This report looks at the impact that MSDs have on the lives of UK workers, the adequacy of the treatment and support they receive, and the human and financial costs of these conditions.

Key themes from the event:

• The Work Foundation has published a report on the results of a survey of 809 people living with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the UK, which finds these people eager to work, but largely unsupported by clinicians and employers.
• There is now a huge body of evidence on cost-effective interventions that can help people with long-term conditions to retain their jobs and be productive at work. All that seems to be missing is the political will to effect change.
• The panel debated the problem of people with MSDs dropping out of the workforce prematurely, and agreed that return-to-work activities commence too late, when individuals have history of considerable periods of inactivity. More could be done both by health care professionals, and employers to help people with MSDs maintain employment.
• For example, the NHS needed to be further incentivised to support return to work, for example by allowing NICE to consider work outcomes and incentivising commissioners through the new Commissioning Outcomes Framework. At the same time regulations for reasonable adjustments in the workplace – although legally available – need to be enforced by the Government.

Click here to view the photos from the event.

This initiative is supported by a grant from the healthcare company Abbott

To find out more about this event contact Alice Holland on 0207 976 3513 or

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