Employees being unable to work due to long-term sickness is a major concern for UK businesses. In 2016, 137 million work days were lost due to sickness or injury, and it is estimated that UK employers spend around £9 billion each year on sick pay and associated costs. To help with this, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has drafted new guidance, with a renewed focus on physiotherapy.
These new recommendations emphasise early intervention and focus on making health and wellbeing a core priority for organisations. NICE wants to see physiotherapists being included at several key stages of every long-term health issue to prevent people needing to take time off if possible, and to assist them on their return.
One new piece of guidance is that anyone likely to be absent from work for more than four weeks should be referred to a relevant medical practitioner. In many cases this will be a physiotherapist, especially for musculoskeletal issues, although in some situations a GP or counsellor will be a more practical solution.
Supporting those not fit for work is another key feature, with physiotherapy being a necessity to help them return. This is a major concern, with many people who leave to take long-term sick leave eventually having to make the decision to leave their jobs. In England, 45 per cent of Employment and Support Allowance claimants were on long-term sick leave before they left their jobs.
Natalie Beswetherick, practice and development director for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, said: “Physiotherapists and other allied health professionals are experts in assessing, diagnosing and treating patients to keep them fit for work, or help them return after an absence.
“This means they can work with employers to advise and support them to keep their staff in work and identifying what adjustments or changes can be made to enable them to return to work.”
Written by Matthew Horton
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