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Labour with Nuffield Health to aid thousands of NHS staff with joint pain return to work

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Nurses accounted for 52,000 of sick days, doctors for 3,500, both up since 2019 as per the Labour report

“Record long NHS waits are forcing huge numbers of people out of work, including doctors and nurses,” said Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary as Labour announced a new partnership with Nuffield Health today to tackle joint pain issues among NHS staff and reducing waiting lists.

Musculoskeletal problems, including back, knee, hip, and neck pain, are the second leading cause of NHS staff absences, surpassed only by mental health issues.

In December 2023 alone, NHS workers missed a record 198,000 days due to these issues, marking a 13 per cent increase from the 174,000 days recorded in December 2019.

Nurses and health visitors accounted for 52,000 of these days, up from 47,000 pre-pandemic, while doctors took 3,500 days off, a 9 per cent increase from 2019.

The partnership with Nuffield Health will provide up to 4,000 extra places for NHS staff in Nuffield Health’s Joint Pain Programme at no cost.

This programme aims to help staff suffering from joint pain remain in or return to work, thus addressing both staff shortages and patient care backlogs.

Labour also has other initiatives, such as collaborations with Virgin/O2 to help children with type-1 diabetes and high street opticians to reduce eye test waiting lists.

“NHS staff can’t treat patients if they are in debilitating pain themselves. Keir Starmer’s mission-driven government will get NHS staff treated and back to work to help clear the backlog,” added Streeting.

“We will care for carers, so they can care for us,” he added.

“Labour will harness all the talents of our country’s public sector, business, and civil society to make our NHS fit for the future,” he continued.

Jill Pritchard, Nuffield Health’s Hospitals Commercial Director, highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating:

“Low-impact, supported exercise can be transformative and accessible, yet its benefits are not widely understood, leaving many people without the support they need.”

“At Nuffield Health, our community rehabilitation programmes are leading the charge with 10,000 people benefiting each year. We welcome the opportunity to work with Labour to extend this vital resource,” she continued.

Ishmael Beckford, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, praised the initiative to cut long waits for NHS services leading to more complex problems.

He said: “We know that the greater the amount of time someone is off work, the less likely they are ever to return.”

Calling it a “double blow when the person waiting is an NHS clinician”, Beckford added that NHS staff desperately need to be “well enough to work providing crucial services, especially during a workforce crisis.”

The partnership is poised to support NHS staff health and wellbeing, helping them return to work and continue delivering essential services, ultimately benefiting the entire healthcare system.

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