I issued the following press release on 26.04.2006
MP welcomes call for evidence on work related back and neck injuries
The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), the body which advises Government on which injuries or diseases should qualify for industrial injuries benefits, has begun its review of work related back and neck disorder with a call for evidence. This review is the outcome of persistent lobbying of Government Ministers by Birmingham MP, Lynne Jones, on behalf of nurses and former nurses in her constituency who have been refused compensation for injuries sustained over a prolonged period in the course of their work.
The evidence will be published on the IIAC website and in relevant medical journals. The IIAC requires independent evidence to show that there is a greater than doubling of risk of such injuries to nurses and other workers than to the general population. The deadline for submission of scientific and epidemiological evidence is 16th June 2006.
Dr Jones said: “Since launching my campaign to get nurses’ back pain classified as an industrial injury I have been contacted by nurses from all over the country, all with similar horror stories of work-related injuries which have caused considerable suffering and for which they have been denied compensation simply because their injuries were not the result of a specific incident. Two nurses told me that this was on the grounds that their continuous pain and disability was due to, or had merely “brought forward”, a pre-existing spinal degeneration. Some spinal degeneration associated with advancing age is one thing: disability and incapacitation by pain is quite another, and when this is due to a person’s work, it is outrageous that they are not properly compensated.”
Lynne Jones has also been told that such workplace health issues make up a large part of the caseload of healthcare workers’ union representatives. The MP added “I hope that the ongoing review will finally produce a result for nurses and other workers affected by such injuries; one that is much deserved and long overdue.”
Notes to Editors
The IIAC’s advertisement, which can be found at http://www.iiac.org.uk/ is as follows:
Call For Evidence
Work-Related Back and Neck Disorders Review
The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is undertaking a review of work-related back and neck disorders. The Council provides advice to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) Scheme - the scheme by which employed earners in the UK receive benefits for industrial accidents or certain scheduled occupational diseases (prescribed diseases).
Currently, disability arising from identifiable back and neck injuries which occur at work is covered by the accident provisions of the scheme. The review will evaluate whether current scientific and medical evidence justifies additions to the list of prescribed diseases for conditions not related to specific incidents but which may still be caused by work. Further information on the scheme and the criteria IIAC employs can be found on this website.
Any organisation or individual with scientific and epidemiological evidence about work-related back or neck disorders is invited to submit it to the Council at the address below no later than 16 June 2006.
Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, Sixth Floor, The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT Tel: 0207 962 8066 Fax: 0207 712 2255
As a result of the MP’s series of fact-finding Parliamentary Questions and letters to ministers, it was revealed that the Department of Health (DoH) recognises that back pain and musculoskeletal disorders are the main cause of sickness absence in the NHS: manual handling accidents and back pain account for approximately 40 % of all NHS sickness absence, rising to 70% in ambulance trusts; and it is for this reason that the DoH launched its Back in Work campaign nationally in 2002 to reduce back injuries among NHS staff. Nevertheless, the Department of Health stated that it does not collect information centrally on such injuries nor does it intend to do so but will leave it to local NHS trusts to monitor staff ill health. Dr Jones said: “This information is precisely the sort of evidence that the IIAC needs in order to be able to decide whether these injuries constitute an occupational disease for which Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is payable.”
In correspondence with Margaret Hodge, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Lynne Jones pointed out that a lack of research and departmental cooperation was leading to an extraordinary injustice to nurses. Following an intervention from the Minister, the IIAC wrote to Dr Jones to say that it has now decided to review occupationally related back pain in relation to nursing and other occupations.