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Highlights in 2013

Vyventis AndriukaitisHealth is a business of many sectors other than health. It is an investment. It is capital to understand that the EU needs more solidarity both at EU and member state levels”, stressed Health Minister Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis of Lithuania.

Click to read the full speech of Minister Andriukaitis.


Maureen ONeillWe need to look how different departments can work together especially in the preventative area. We need to look for support across the board - policy-makers, civil service, charities, and patient associations”, said Maureen O’Neill, President, Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).


Dr BertolliniReducing health inequities should become one of the main criteria to measure the performance of healthcare systems and governments”, said Dr Roberto Bertollini, Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the EU WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Click to view Dr Bertollini’s presentation.


John Bowis“There is no wealth without health”, said John Bowis, Health expert, former Member of European Parliament, former UK Health Minister.



Gianni Pitella“We must shift the approach towards chronic conditions to deliver better healthcare, support employment and grow the economy”, argued Gianni Pittella, Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Click to watch Pittella’s video address.


“Invest to save. Healthcare interventions which help people remain in work reduce welfare payments, avoid lost tax revenues and avoid social exclusion. If early interventions can reduce temporary work disability by 25% the equivalent of an extra 640,000 EU workers would be available for work each day. If total work disability was reduced by 39% this figure rises to one million additional workers each day”, explained Prof Stephen Bevan, Founding President of Fit for Work Europe and Director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation.

Click to view Prof Bevan’s presentation.


Daiga Behmane“MSDs can be tackled. The Latvian Fit for Work Coalition is working with the Government and policy-makers to implement a National Development Plan (2014 – 2020) to cope with the societal and economic impacts of MSDs. Cross-government cooperation, high political commitment and skilful clinicians are crucial to the success of this project”, said Daiga Behmane, Fit for Work National Project Leader for Latvia and health expert.

Click to view Behmane’s presentation.


“Getting departments to share budgets and work together is key. In Sweden, various government departments are coordinating budgets for vocational rehab since the early 1990s. The Swedish Rehabilitation Chain decreased the number of people taking sickness benefits and improved return to work”, stressed David McDaid, Editor, EuroHealth & Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science and European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

Click to view McDaid’s presentation.


Sarah Copsey“Movement, not just ergonomics is crucial to effective prevention of long term health conditions”, said Sarah Copsey, Project manager, Prevention and Research Unit – European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA)

Click to view Copsey’s presentation.


Paul Emery“The concept of Early Intervention is applicable not only to MSDs, but also to inflammatory diseases. In the Leeds Musculoskeletal Service in the UK we receive 25,000 referrals per year and we confirm diagnosis within 5 days after the patients are referred by the GPs”, explained Prof Paul Emery, Professor, Rheumatology, Academic Unit of Musculoskeletal Disease, University of Leeds, and Co-President, Fit for Work Europe.


Juan Jover“After twenty days of sick leave people are unlikely to return to work. The first Early Intervention programme in Spain reduced by 39% the number of days lost to temporary work disability and 50% the number of cases of permanent work disability. Currently, Early Intervention Clinics are set up in eighteen hospitals across Spain”, revealed Dr Juan Jover, Head of Rheumatology Service, Hospital Clínico San Carlos Madrid, and founder of the early intervention concept.

Click to view Emery and Jover's joint presentation.


“The European Commission has evidence base on the economic benefits of better health at work. The challenge is better implementation of existing legislation on health and safety at work. Healthcare should be considered not only by health, employment and welfare policy-makers, but also by those responsible for budgeting and finance”, stressed Dr Francisco Jesús Alvarez Hidalgo, Principal Administrator, Unit Heath, Safety and Hygiene at Work, DG EMPL, European Commission.


Establish National Directors of Work & Health to lead plans to tackling MSDs in your countries” prompted Dame Carol Black, Expert Adviser at the Department of Health and Work England and Fit for Work Co-president. Click to read the Call to Action of Fit for Work Europe in 2013.


We must go beyond restoring the patients’ health. We must recognise work ability as a clinical outcome” said Prof Anthony Woolf, representative of the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR).


We need to have good healthcare systems inside our companies” said Ralf Diemer, Head Brussels Office, German Association of the Automotive Industry.


We need more focus on smaller and medium sized business. Big business are making progress” said David Harney, Managing Director, Irish Life Corporate Business.


Driving change involves commitment for the longer-term” stressed Pascale Rihetta, Vice-President Western Europe and Canada, AbbVie, supporter of Fit for Work Europe.


Premature withdrawal from work among people with chronic illness increases the risk of poverty and social exclusion, reduces tax revenues and increases welfare payments. These are preventable costs which can be reduced through concerted and joined-up action across policy silos” said Antonyia Parvanova in an editorial for the Parliament Magazine ahead of the Fit for Work Summit 2013 (Issue 375, 23 September 2013, pp. 33-34).