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Research shows 6,000 NHS staff in England off sick daily with MSK problems

5 March 2015 - 9:25am

About 6,000 NHS staff in England miss work every day due to musculoskeletal (MSK) problems, freedom of information requests have revealed.

Physio staff MSK NHS

Rapid access to physiotherapy can improve employee health and prevent sickness absence

A total of 59 acute trusts in England responded to the information requests, which covered the three years from 2011. It emerged that in any one year:

  • 60 per cent of NHS workers took sick leave – 20 days each, on average
  • one absence in every six (16.5 per cent) was due to an MSK disorder
  • the average trust lost 13,842 days

The freedom of information enquiries were made by PhysioMed, a private provider of occupational physiotherapy.

The company claimed the figures show that sickness absence due to MSK disorders costs the NHS £200 million a year. Its assessment was based on an average daily staff rate of £91.56 and an average 13,842 days lost across all 156 NHS trusts in England.

CSP professional adviser Jenny Nissler said: ‘The CSP is working to promote access to fast, effective physiotherapy services for the NHS workforce and to demonstrate the impact physiotherapists can have on the health of UK employees.

‘The Boorman review back in 2009 set out the business case for self referral and early access to physiotherapy for NHS staff.

‘It cited multiple examples of improvements for staff and savings to services due to reductions in sickness absence. And since then there have been many more examples showing evidence of the benefits to employees.’

Data from the information requests supports the findings of the CSP’s Fit enough for patients? report in 2013.

This said that about one NHS trust in three in England lacked a health and wellbeing strategy, while one in five did not offer staff rapid access to physiotherapy.

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