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30 January 2024

Westminster Hall Debate on Musculoskeletal (MSK) Conditions and Employment

Earlier this month, Margaret Greenwood MP and Versus Arthritis secured a debate session at Westminster Hall. The session, which took place on Wednesday January 10th 2024, focused on musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions and employment. Living with MSK conditions, such as arthritis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), can significantly impact a person’s ability to work.

Did you know?

1 in 3 employees have not discussed their MSK condition with their employer. Employment support for individuals living with arthritis and other forms of MSK conditions needs to be prioritised and improved.

According to Margaret Greenwood, “The government should present a cross-departmental MSK strategy.”

Key points addressed during the debate:

The devastating impact of MSK conditions, such as pain, reduced mobility, diminished self-confidence, and isolation. These factors can potentially lead to extended work absences, job loss, as well as societal costs and NHS spending.

Specific conditions and associated workplace factors were discussed. For example, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic fractures and workplace elements which contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. This may include lifting heavy loads, using handheld power tools, long-distance driving, and repetitive work. Industries with high incidents included agriculture, construction, health and social care, and transport.

The impact of MSK conditions in sectors like transport, logistics, and health care, with a call to ban zero-hour contracts.

Importance of ensuring healthy working practices and mitigations for movements that contribute to musculoskeletal issues.

Significance of the Access to Work scheme for supporting disabled individuals. With emphasis on improvement to the service, including awareness, a simplified application process, and enhanced accessibility.

Addressing funding cuts and increased support for campaigns like “Better Bones.”

Government strategy proposal: a call for a cross-departmental musculoskeletal (MSK). A strategy to promote MSK health, reduce workplace risks, and support affected individuals, with an investment in leisure centres and swimming pools.

Andy McGuinness, Public Affairs Manager at Versus Arthritis, highlighted the importance of the debate. “We’re in parliament to ensure MPs prioritise arthritis. People with arthritis want to work and need support to stay employed. Improving employment support is a key priority for Versus Arthritis in this and future governments. We collaborate with MPs across parties to ensure individuals with arthritis and other MSK conditions receive the necessary support to stay employed and find suitable jobs."

Beth Colliety, Policy Manager at Versus Arthritis, addressed the next steps. “Lots of issues affecting people with MSK at work were raised, and we look forward to meeting with the Minister of Disabled People at the end of the month to discuss this further. It’s an election year, and there are key priorities we’ll be working towards for and with people with arthritis. It’s more important than ever to make your voice heard.”

Tom Randall MP, Vicky Foxcroft MP, Mims Davies MP, John McDonnell MP, Marion Fellows MP, Rupa Huq MP, Jim Shannon MP, and Gregory Campbell MP were in attendance.

In conclusion, the debate called for a holistic government approach, including a cross-departmental strategy, public awareness campaigns, and small business support. The debate stressed the necessity for investments and actions addressing overall health and musculoskeletal conditions.

You can watch the debate session on Musculoskeletal Conditions and Employment here. Alternatively, read a transcript of the recording here.

All members of the general public are welcome to watch debates in both Houses from the public galleries, free of charge.

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