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Limit sickness absence with MSD strategy, says NHS Employers

8 October 2015

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Around 40% of NHS staff sickness absence is due to musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) according to NHS Employers, which has outlined a strategy to avoid this problem.

MSDs include back, arm, and neck pain, as well as diseases of the joints, and can be caused by work-related injuries, however “early intervention can make a big difference”, the employment body said today, as part of a campaign for Back Care Awareness Week.

It advises that managers identify any local rapid access service as well as occupational health, physiotherapy and counselling, and regularly review risk assessments.

“As a manager, you play a key role in providing support to employees as you are the first point of contact when they experience difficulties which may affect their work and wellbeing,” a spokesman said.

To prevent long-term staff absence, managers should regularly check the accident book and sickness absence records and encourage staff to tell you when any MSDs start to develop.

If it’s too late to prevent an MSD developing, arrange modified working when necessary (for example rehabilitation and redeployment) to help people keep working in some capacity until they are fit to full resume their usual job. Design back to work plans including therapeutic return and phased return, NHS Employers advised.

The information read: “Getting your employee back to work sooner will benefit both them and the organisation, and in many cases help speed up their recovery.”