Belfast Telegraph

Sickness benefits figures revealed

Almost a third of all illness benefit payments are for sick days lost through joint, muscle or bone pain, figures show.

Up to seven million absentee days are recorded each year from a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), a condition that affects 80% of the Irish adult population.

A report claims the illness, that includes back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and spinal disorders, cost the economy 750 million euro a year.

Figures includes 275 million euro in illness benefit - almost a third of all payments by the Department of Social Protection - as well as almost 500 million euro in overtime payments, loss of productivity and cost to the health service.

Fit for Work Ireland, a coalition of patients, employers, unions and health professionals, is holding a one day forum to highlight the need for early detection, prevention and management of conditions.

Dr Don Thornhill, chairman, said Ireland spends more per capita on sickness and healthcare benefits than 24 other countries in Europe.

"Given the significant employee numbers and costs involved, even a very small reduction in this number, through the introduction of a national intervention policy, will result in significant savings to the exchequer," he said.

"Evidence from employers who have adopted this approach is strong."


From Belfast Telegraph