Theresa Griffin MEP inadequate holistic pain management is pushing individuals into long-term unemployment and early retirement

Today (24 May), Theresa Griffin MEP joined experts to find ways to improve pain care policies across Europe. Pain imposes a heavy burden on individuals and leads to enormous costs for healthcare systems as well as for society, economies and employment. In the UK back pain is the second most common cause of long-term sickness absence and the leading cause for people in manual occupations.

In the EU, the figures are equally alarming as up to 100 million EU citizens have musculoskeletal pain that causes almost 50% of all absences from work lasting three days or longer and 60% of permanent work incapacity. The direct and indirect costs of musculoskeletal diseases have been estimated at €240bn each year – up to 2% of GDP across the EU.

The 2016 Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Symposium brings together top decision-makers and stakeholders to address this urgent issue and find solutions to help European governments and EU Institutions act and prioritise the societal impact of pain in their policy agenda.

Theresa Griffin, Member of the European Parliament, stated:

“Throughout my life and political career I have held the strong belief that everyone should have access to quality employment – regardless of their circumstances.

“I have worked for over twenty years on equality for disabled people. One difficult and still under debated barrier into work (or re-entering work) is poorly managed pain. Chronic pain and lack of proper holistic pain management often pushes individuals into early retirement or keeps them out of work, against their will, when they would otherwise chose to keep working.

“The aim of the SIP Symposium is to raise awareness and provide suggestions for stronger employment and social protection policies to support people suffering chronic pain who choose to work – with the correct pain management and suitable employment adjustments treating the entire person.”

Others speakers included leading researchers and specialists in the field of pain, representatives of key European patients’ organisations, and senior European Commission representatives.

Also speaking at the Societal Impact of Pain symposium was Dr Chris Wells, President of the European Pain Federation, the medical specialists working in the field of pain care. Dr Wells trained in Liverpool and was Director of the Pain Research Institute in Liverpool from 1983 to 1994.

Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE, Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence, November 2011