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British Osteopathic Association Response to Today’s Report highlighting that ill health costs the British economy around £103bn.

The Department for Work and Pensions is preparing to publish a report by Dame Carol Black, the DWP’s National Director for Health and Work, on assisting people on sick leave to return to work. The report puts the total cost of ill-health to the British economy at around £103bn, with the bulk of this figure (£63bn) being made up of the benefit costs and lost taxes for people who are not working due to illness or disability.

As part of her recommendations, Dame Black proposes trials of a new Fit for Work service to provide access to specialists such as physiotherapists, osteopaths and counsellors for all employees in the early stages of sickness. Dame Black has been reported as saying that the conditions are often treatable and even preventable if they could be supported early. Commenting on this morning’s Today programme, Dame Black specifically referred to the potential of osteopathy when treating and preventing conditions such as bad backs.

On Wednesday 12 March, the BOA held a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons focused on Osteopathy: Complementary Healthcare for a 21st Century Workforce. The purpose of the event was to highlight the benefits of osteopathy and its greater potential if Government funding was introduced.

In her presentation the president of the BOA, Karen Robinson, focused on the potential benefits to the NHS; by getting patients off waiting lists, and reducing the need for expensive and/or ineffective drugs; and to the economy; by assisting those on long-term sick leave back into work, thereby reducing working days lost and the associated benefit payments. Osteopathy has the potential to even more beneficial if interventions occur early on.

Musculoskeletal problems have taken a significant toll on the UK economy. The Department of Health’s Musculoskeletal Services Framework 2006 Report highlighted that musculoskeletal patients are the second largest group (22%) receiving incapacity benefits and an estimated 12.3 million working days are lost every year through work-related musculoskeletal problems. The cost to the UK economy of these lost days is staggering.

As the UK economy continues to develop and the pressures of modern working life become more acute, the physical strain upon employees is likely to increase further. As Geoffrey Podger, CEO of the Health and Safety Executive, recognised in a speech to the Society of Occupational Medicine, “With 30 million working days still lost each year, more must be done to embrace the challenges of the modern workplace… We have to find effective solutions to these new challenges in order to keep people healthy and in employment”.

Karen Robinson, President of the BOA comments, ‘More must be done to reduce the level of impact of musculoskeletal conditions on patients, and the corresponding effect caused to employers and the economy. While there are no silver-bullet answers to addressing this concern, Osteopathy offers the potential to drastically reduce the number of working days lost, benefiting patients, employers and the NHS. With over seven million osteopathic treatments performed each year, the feedback we receive from our patients is overwhelmingly positive.”

“Whilst we were very disappointed to note that no provision had been made in the budget to make use of the NHS surpluses previously reported to support the integration of osteopathy and other alternative therapies into NHS treatments we are encouraged to hear Dame Carol’s comments this morning to the media and the BOA will do all it can to support any initiatives that emerge. While musculoskeletal problems still present a formidable challenge, Osteopathy offers enormous promise to patients, to employers and to the NHS. At the event Karen encouraged the MPs and policy makers present to engage further with the British Osteopathic Association to help us increase accessibility to this proven” Karen Robinson continued

The host for the event was the Luton North MP, Kelvin Hopkins who introduced to the podium Conservative Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper, BOA President Karen Robinson, and Boo Armstrong, Managing Director of GetWell UK, whose organisation has had great success in a pilot scheme in Northern Ireland to integrate complementary therapies into the NHS.

Attendees at the reception included: Kelvin Hopkins MP (host), Mark Harper MP (Conservative shadow Minister for Work and Pensions; Anne Milton MP (Conservative shadow Minister of Health); Sandra Gidley MP (Liberal Democrat shadow Minister for Health/Member of the Health Select Committee); Dr. John Pugh MP (Liberal Democrat shadow Minister for Treasury, Member of Public Accounts Select Committee); Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat shadow Minister for Defence/ Whip); Diane Abbott MP; Mark Durkan MP/MLA; Bill Etherington MP; Roger Gale MP; David Maclean MP; Edward O’ Hara MP; Dr. Tony Wright MP; Earl Baldwin of Bewdley; Lord Brookman; Lord Clement-Jones; Lord Colwyn; Baroness Wilkins’