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NICE recommendations for NHS Framework represent false economy by shifting long-term burden onto DWP

Professor Stephen Bevan

02 August 2012

Commenting on the recommendations for the
NHS Commissioning Outcomes Framework published today (2 August), Professor Stephen Bevan of The Work Foundation said:

“The recommendations for the Framework published today reflect a short-termist approach to healthcare planning which could impact on the quality of life for many people as well as the UK economy. We are particularly concerned about the omission of any indicators around employment for people with long-term conditions. The Work Foundation has, for several years, been conducting research on the employment experiences of people with long-term conditions including back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. We have consistently found that enabling those with such conditions to return to work as soon as they are ready significantly improves their quality of life. It provides an income, a sense of purpose, dignity and social connectivity.

 “To exclude employment for long-term conditions is to neglect a major avenue both for speeding up patient recovery and reducing costs to the UK’s healthcare and welfare systems. By focussing on short-term indicators to save money, this type of planning would create a false economy by shifting the burden onto the DWP in the long term. 

“With the DWP prioritising return to work for people with chronic conditions via the Work Capability Assessments, this would respresent a disconnect in strategic planning between government departments.

“It is also troubling that the recommendations fail to include specific indicators for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), particularly as these conditions are among the most common causes of work-related absence.

“In the latest Labour Force Survey, over one in four (27%) respondents reported problems with their back, neck, upper or lower limbs, and we know that the proportion of people with MSDs is likely to grow as the population ages. Omitting MSDs from this framework would risk side-lining this significant and growing demographic in the NHS’s spending plans. With these conditions costing the UK £7 billion in 2007 due to lost working time, this is an area of enormous significance for the UK economy and for the dual policy aims of ‘Work First’ and social inclusion.”



Notes to editors


1.     Prof. Stephen Bevan and Ksenia Zheltoukhova are available for interviews, briefings and written comment.

2.     The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.


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