I issued the following press release on 27.09.2005
MP campaigns to get nurses’ back pain classified as an industrial injury
The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), the body which advises Government on which injuries or diseases should qualify for industrial injuries benefits, has now agreed to review occupationally related back pain in relation to nursing and other occupations following persistent lobbying of Government Ministers by Birmingham MP, Lynne Jones.
Nurses who have to retire early because of painful back and joint injuries caused by repeated heavy lifting over a long working period are being refused compensation simply because the IIAC does not have access to the relevant research. The IIAC requires independent evidence to show that there is a greater than doubling of risk of such injuries to nurses than to the general population. To date it has stated that it does not have such evidence. Lynne Jones said today: "I am delighted that, at last, the IIAC is going to act to rectify this unjust situation. The Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive are well aware of the high level of back and other musculoskeletal injuries in the nursing profession, but independent evidence for this has not been analysed by the IIAC."
Dr Jones said: "I am hopeful that our campaign to get nurses’ back pain classified as an industrial injury is finally achieving some results. Nurses and former nurses in my constituency who are suffering with back and joint problems have told me they are fed up with being called angels: they want justice."
Notes to Editors
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.