Work is important for people. It is the best way to achieve economic independence, prosperity and personal fulfillment; it also helps reduce health and social inequalities. Changing demographics means having more people in work is increasingly important for communities and our economy making the health and wellbeing of working-age people of high importance to our future.
Every week around 1 million people report sick. 3,000 of these will remain off at 6 months and 2,400 will not work again in the next 5 years. After 2 years on welfare support, an individual is more likely to retire or die than return to work. If we are to reduce absence and prevent people becoming dependent upon benefits, we must help people to remain in work when they have health problems, and facilitate their return to work following illness or injury.
The workplace also provides an environment where we can provide people with the support and encouragement to take responsibility for improving their own health. Success will depend on all those who, in any way, contribute to the health and well-being of working-age people working together.
(Dr Bill Gunnyeon, Chief Medical Adviser, Department for Work and Pensions Source: The Health and Work Handbook 2006)