Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, joined people living with arthritis at a Parliamentary event in Westminster this July to hear first-hand the impact the chronic pain associated with the condition can have on the ability to remain in employment and how to ensure every person with arthritis who wants to work has the support they need.
At the event, healthcare charity, Versus Arthritis launched its new report, Working it Out: Demanding More From the Access to Work Scheme. Access to Work is a government scheme that can provide valuable workplace assistance, such as specialist equipment, transport and support staff.
However, the charity found that 59% of people they spoke to had never heard of the Access to Work scheme, with many more unaware of the type of help it can provide. This means that too many people with arthritis are going without the support they need and are unnecessarily struggling or dropping out of work.
Arthritis can make work more difficult, with tasks such as commuting, carrying equipment or even typing becoming challenging. Only 63% of working age adults with a musculoskeletal condition are in work, compared to 81% of people with no health conditions.
The Government has pledged to see one million more disabled people and those with long-term health conditions in work by 2027. To achieve this target, it is vital that people with arthritis have the support they need to stay in or return to work.
Nigel Evans said:
“5,153 people in Ribble Valley are living with osteoarthritis of the hip, 8,483 with osteoarthritis of the knee and 17,336 with back pain. Many more are affected by other related conditions every day.
“I wanted to show support in Parliament for my constituents and highlight the steps we can all take to make life easier for people with arthritis who want to work. It is important that people with arthritis in Ribble Valley are aware of the help available, such as the Access to Work scheme, and can access support when they need it.”
Shona Cleland, Public Affairs Manager at Versus Arthritis, said:
“It was fantastic to see Nigel at our event in Parliament, hearing from people with arthritis about the impact of the condition on their working lives and the support that can make a difference.
“Arthritis slowly intrudes on everyday life, affecting someone’s quality of life, independence, mental health and ability to work. But we know that most people with arthritis want to work, and many can with the right support. MPs like Nigel Evans can help to shine a light on what more can be done.”