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Welfare reform a missed opportunity, say physiotherapists

CSP press release published on 11 November 2010

Employers should be made to do more to keep staff off benefits

Iain Duncan Smith has missed a golden opportunity to prevent many people from ever needing to go on disability benefits in the first place, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said today.

The CSP believes the Work and Pensions Secretary should have used his white paper to compel employers and the NHS to invest in early intervention services.

These services prevent short-term injuries such as back pain from developing into long-term conditions that keep people away from work and reliant on benefits.

Phil Gray, chief executive of the CSP, said: "Early intervention is an approach that has been proven internationally to keep people in work and it is an absolute scandal that it has been overlooked once again.

"The white paper represented a perfect chance to put in place a framework for catching physical and mental health conditions at an early stage to stop more lives being devastated by prolonged spells away from work.

"Instead, the government - like its predecessors - has failed miserably and gone for the easier target in the form of welfare recipients.

"That failure will completely undermine any attempt to reduce the number of people receiving benefits."
Early intervention services, such as providing a physiotherapist in the workplace, are running successfully in the US, Australia and Scandinavia, with employers facing sanctions for failing to safeguard the health of their staff.

A CSP report released in October, called Sickness Costs, outlined the savings achieved by employers who voluntarily provided such services, along with the stories of employees who were saved from long-term absence by getting early treatment.

Absence from work just through musculoskeletal disorders alone is estimated by the Health and Safety Executive to cost employers about £7.4 billion a year.


Notes for editors

  1. For further media information please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111. Out of hours please call Debbie Broadhurst, head of press and PR on 07786 332 197 or Jon Ryan, media and PR officer on 07917 091 200.
  2. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 49,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants.


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