Physiotherapy has been highlighted in a new bid to tackle long-term sickness absence in an article published by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
The cost of absence to UK employers is estimated at £9 billion per year and totals a massive 137 million days off work. As employee health and wellbeing continues to take the spotlight, physiotherapists are the best equipped professionals to keep UK workers healthy and in work, or return to work sooner if they are unwell.
The recommendations, which are currently in draft guidance have been published by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).
The article highlights that in addition to the high cost of absenteeism, a number of those who take long term sick leave do not return to work at all – in fact 45% of claimants of Employment and Support Allowance took a period of sickness absence before they left their employment.
For those with musculoskeletal illness, physiotherapists can ensure a smooth and lasting return to the workplace, delivering ROI for employers and career longevity for workers.
Our team at Back in Action UK were delighted to be recognised as leading specialists in occupational physiotherapy by SME News, a quarterly publication for small and medium sized UK businesses. With a circulation in excess of 78,000 – we were thrilled to be shortlisted and win our award.
The Awards Programme
This awards programme celebrates small and medium sized businesses – at times cited as the backbone of our economy. Often overlooked by mainstream awards for big business, SME News organisation focuses solely on small business – and its significant contribution to commerce and the economy.
SME News Award Categories
The category awards span business, enterprise and legal and are either for the whole of the UK or split between the British Isles.
We were entered in the UK Enterprise Award category, which encompassed a variety of exciting and diverse UK businesses. Leaders within each category were identified, shortlisted, evaluated and judged before a winner was chosen. All winners are currently published on the website, in the magazine and in the SME News newsletter.
Our team were thrilled to win the award for Leading Specialists in Occupational Physiotherapy 2018.
As a company we strive to deliver the best in service; forming innovative partnerships, delivering consistent return on investment for our clients but most importantly, keeping employees pain free, in work and well. It’s fantastic to be recognised for the work we do. See our feature here.
We are proud to have partnered with GPDQ to supplement our occupational physiotherapy service and provide closer links to GPs for our clients. Physiotherapy and GP-related needs often go hand in hand and we believe we can make our service even more effective through this partnership.
Where is the service available?
The service is available nationwide across the UK.
What is on offer?
With this service clients can take full advantage of;
- GP consultations
- Audiology tests
- Blood tests
- Health check
- Onward specialist referrals
In addition to our corporate physiotherapy services of course!
Who are GPDQ?
GPDQ provide highly experienced NHS GPs available to patients in a new, on-demand format. Patients can be seen more quickly and treated effectively. Bookings are made via their website or app with video appointments, visits or clinic appointments available. The service is open from 8am – 11pm 7 days a week.
The cost of absenteeism and presenteeism is sky high for employers and reducing this through keeping employees in work is why Back in Action exists. This underpins GPDQ’s model too and we’re excited to add GP services through this organisation.
View more information on our website.
Absence within the workplace is a daily occurrence for most employers, whether it be a cold, neck strain or stress. However, an employee’s health and wellbeing can heavily affect a workplace, with an estimated 137.3 million working days lost due to illness in 2016. There are measurements in place when returning to work, but are companies investing in their employees’ wellbeing in the first place?
Return-to-work interviews and monitoring absences are essential, but being proactive and preventing the absence before it happens will have a far more positive impact. A person’s wellbeing can be determined by their home life, relationships, and their job. A recent government study showed that employees can be more creative, cooperative, and have better general health if they experience a higher level of wellbeing. Looking after your employees’ can come in many forms and will vary depending on the industry and the type of work being carried out. For example, wellbeing schemes can include healthy eating advice, gym memberships, physiotherapy services,or a health care plan.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are one of the main causes for absence at work within the UK. This is where having a wellbeing scheme could be used to its full effect. Prevention is key, we give staff training to make sure they are doing the best job possible, but keeping their wellbeing at the forefront of the working day could prove invaluable. Precautions can be put in place to bring down the number of people affected by MSDs in the workplace, such as an on-site physiotherapist to help with any injuries that could affect a staff member, ensuring all workstations are assessed and fit for everyday use or even an on-site manual handling course to ensure confidence and good practice. Focusing on people’s wellbeing could be the difference between a day of absence and a productive day’s work.
A survey conducted by Aon Employee Benefits has shown that employers are aiming to promote workplace wellbeing schemes: their Benefits and Trends Survey 2018 showed an increase from 36% to 42%. With that in mind, it shows employers are aiming to take steps in the right direction. Combining return-to-work interviews, the monitoring of data and an appropriate well-being scheme could be the ticket to a healthier and happier workplace.
BIA UK’s very own Kenny Butler has co-authored a study that has made it into the British Medical Journal (BMJ) as part of his work with Active Health UK. The piece has been covered in numerous press including The Sun, The Times and iNews.
Focus on Physical Activity Can Can Help Avoid Unnecessary Social Care
You can read the finished article here but in summary, the study explains how physical activity for older adults can help maintain their health and reduce the spiralling cost of social care.
The cost ramifications and shortage of social care services are rife in the UK and with direct links between “the parlous state of the NHS and the social care crisis”, it’s important for the nation’s future health to address this and reduce the impact.
This write up shows that there is a cost-efficient and effective way to start reducing the social care cost by simply focusing on increasing the amount of physical activity completed by older adults.
Within the published piece is a discussion on the effects of ageing and loss of fitness. It is noted that the two are often confused and mistakenly, people tend to think that exercise may make health conditions worse whereas this is rarely the case. By working on strength, stamina, suppleness and skill the benefits for older adults can span cognitive, physical and social aspects.
An important report from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges wrote: “Exercise may reverse the decline and keep a person above the threshold for needing increased care”. This is an important statement and indicative of how important exercise can be in reducing social care cost.
The piece then goes on to discuss the role of healthcare and policy in supporting these findings as well as specific statistics around physical activity and health benefits.
Read the full post here.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has revealed details of a government announcement that will allow physiotherapists to sign Fit Notes to help people get back into work.
Experts in Musculoskeletal Disorders
The Government issued paper ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’ outlined a significant focus on musculoskeletal illness and an expansion on those professions qualified to issue Fit Notes. At present, the Fit Note is only able to be issued by GPs and hasn’t taken off as a tool to help employees get back into work. With low usage and limitations it hasn’t been a success yet – but physiotherapists, as experts in musculoskeletal illness and rehabilitation, will be able to issue Fit Notes with skill.
Getting People Back into Work
Another benefit of allowing physiotherapists to sign Fit Notes is to take advantage of their knowledge around how best to adapt the workplace in order for an employee to return to work. This is a factor in why the Fit Note isn’t working as planned at the moment – GP’s aren’t equipped with as much specialised knowledge of how workplaces can be adapted to meet patient’s needs.
The CSP says:
‘The proposal to allow physiotherapists to issue fit notes is excellent news for patients, as is the focus on musculoskeletal conditions, which are one of the leading reasons for sickness absence in the UK.
Patients should need fewer appointments as well as getting answers – and back to work – more quickly and pain free.
We’ve read and digested a new report by the Society for Occupational Medicine discussing the value proposition of occupational health for employers and have a summary of its main points that relate to our work as occupational physiotherapists below.
Health problems among the working population are having a significant socio-economic impact. Population surveys estimate that 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013. Minor illnesses were the most common reason given for these illnesses and accounted for 27.4 million of these days whilst the greatest number of days were due to musculoskeletal problems (30.6 million). This is ample evidence to support the inclusion of occupational health for employees. Other main points addressed in the report include;
1. How is Occupational Health Support Accessed?
In relation to how occupational services are accessed, the report states:
- Access to occupational health services are restricted to employees of large companies only, but SMEs are by far and away the biggest employers, so these employees aren’t getting the benefits of these services
Only a minority of the UK workforce can access a comprehensive occupational health service. A telephone survey of 2,250 British employers in all sectors of the British economy enquiring about broad health and wellbeing provision reported that 13% of employers provided access to occupational health services to employees in the last year.
2. How is Occupational Health Support Defined?
A telephone survey of 4,950 UK employers examining specifically the use of occupational health support defined comprehensive occupational health support as; hazard identification, risk management, provision of information modifying work activities, providing training on occupational health-related issues, measuring workplace hazards, and monitoring trends in health.
Using this definition, only 3% of UK employers provided access to comprehensive occupational health services. Both surveys reported that more large organisations provide access than small companies too. The range of services was also determined by legislative or statutory requirements within each industry sector.
3. How is the Business Case Made for Occupational Health Support?
“The business case for investing in occupational health within an organisation must be transparent and compelling. The benefits are not restricted to financial reasons and the quality of return on investment economic evaluations are low. The business “value” of high absence needs to be determined by each company rather than just looking at pure financials”.
- Compelling business reasons for investing in occupational health should include:
- Legal – the legal obligation employers have for the safety and welfare of their employees. This includes compliance with statutory regulation including The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. As part of this legislation, employers are required to conduct health assessments where occupational health staff can advise on the specific needs of employees and arrange or provide suitable programmes.
- Moral – Moral reasons for implementing an occupational health plan have usually been taken by smaller companies that know their staff intimately and want to provide a good workplace for them. But increasingly, corporate social responsibility has led larger employers to undertake a moral duty to look after their staff.
- Financial – sickness absence is estimated to cost UK businesses £28.8 billion each year; an overall median cost of £554 per employee, and anywhere between 2-16% of payroll. Yet when surveyed only half of employers thought that occupational health provided a return on investment. However when examined closely, the costs provide a compelling case for considering occupational health investment.
Below is a table of tangible and intangible costs associated with poor occupational health:
Increasingly employees, customers, shareholders and investors expect employers to demonstrate high standards of corporate social responsibility and to integrate social, ethical and environmental concerns into business operations. Social concerns include employee health and wellbeing; consequently occupational health can play a major role in employers’ corporate social responsibility programmes. In summary:
- Protecting and promoting employee health is integral to corporate social responsibility
- Employees think employers should be more proactive in providing workplace health interventions
- Work-related ill health is a significant cost to individuals, employers and the taxpayer
- Employer paid interventions may save more money at a societal level (health and social care)