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Self-referral offers a way back to work for injured employees, say physios.

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

To mark the health and safety debate at this year's TUC Congress, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is alerting employers and other unions to the part physiotherapists can play in helping injured workers return to the job market.

To mark the health and safety debate at this year's TUC Congress, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is alerting employers and other unions to the part physiotherapists can play in helping injured workers return to the job market.

New figures released today by the CSP today show that over half a million people (501,700) are currently off work and claiming benefits for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The data was collated and analysed by the Labour Research Department for the CSP.

The steady increase in physiotherapist numbers in recent years has helped reduce levels of work-related absence, but MSDs are still the second highest cause of ill health for those receiving incapacity benefits. The CSP says too little is being done to give individuals rapid access to treatment.

The Society says giving people more control over how and where they seek treatment for their condition could further slash the figures. CSP chief executive Phil Gray says:

'Being forced to stay off work can have a devastating impact on an individual's personal and professional life. And research shows that the sooner people are able to access treatment for their injuries, the better their chances of returning to work and getting off incapacity benefit.

'The majority of people receiving benefits want to return to work. They may well achieve their goal sooner if they could go direct to an NHS physiotherapist, rather than having to visit their GP first for a referral and then wait for an appointment to come through.

'Developing more physiotherapy self-referral schemes within the NHS would not only help individuals, they would also benefit business and the economy and relieve pressure on GPs, who collectively bear the brunt of over one million (1) visits from people with MSDs each year.'

The Society is campaigning for wider access to self-referral to physiotherapy schemes, which would enable people to get expert advice immediately rather than spending months on a consultant's waiting list while their condition worsens.

(1) Compendium of Health Statistics 2003-2004, 15th edition, table 1.27(a) page 50.

ENDS

Notes:

1) Numbers of people receiving incapacity benefit for MSDs by region. MSDs affect muscles, joints, tendons and other parts of the musculoskeletal system.
 
Region                                         Incapacity (MSDs)
North West                                           81,100
West Midlands                                    52,200
Scotland                                               50,900
Yorkshire and Humberside              47,600
London                                                 46,400
Wales                                                    45,200
North East                                            40,100
East Midlands                                     37,600
South East                                           36,700
East                                                       31,100
South West                                          30,300

2) Incapacity benefit is paid to people who are assessed as being incapable of work and who meet certain contribution conditions. Incapacity Benefit replaced Sickness Benefit and Invalidity Benefit in 1995.

3) Figures for Incapacity Benefit are published quarterly by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). These latest figures are for people receiving benefit in February 2004.

4) For more details, please contact Jennie Edmondson on 020 7306 6616 / 07786 332 197

5) The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country's 43,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. For previous press releases see www.csp.org.uk

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