Physiotherapy highlighted in new bid to tackle long-term sickness absence

Physiotherapy may help employees deal with issues that might affect their health and work performance.

NICE: physiotherapy may help employees deal with issues that might affect their health.

That is a recommendation in draft guidance on workplace health published today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

For those returning to work after a long period of absence, measures should be put in place to ensure a smooth and sustainable return. For those with musculoskeletal conditions, graded activity can help this, NICE said.

CSP practice and development director Natalie Beswetherick said: ‘Often it takes just a few simple or low-cost changes to help someone with a long-term health condition come back to work earlier, or prevent them from taking time off in the first place.’

Today’s publication focusses on long-term sickness absence and capability to work. It is a partial update to the 2009 guideline on workplace health (PH19).

The new recommendations emphasise that health and well-being should be a core priority for all organisations, and employers should provide a caring and supportive work environment.

Currently, UK employers spend £9 billion a year on sick pay and associated costs and according to the Office for National Statistics, in 2016 alone, 137 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury.

There are also concerns that many who take long-term sick-leave don’t return to work and in England, 45 per cent of claimants of Employment and Support Allowance took a period of sickness absence before they left employment.

The new NICE recommendations suggest that early intervention could benefit both employees and their employers. Companies should consider offering employee assistance programmes.

The CSP is producing a new fit note backed by occupational therapists and podiatrists.

Ms Beswetherick 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.’

The NICE consultation closes on Friday 5 July.

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