I joined people living with arthritis at a Parliamentary event in Westminster on Tuesday 2nd July. I heard firsthand about 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.
Versus Arthritis also found that one in four applicants (with arthritis) surveyed said the scheme was difficult to communicate with, and three quarters did not know they were entitled to a review of their support.
Versus Arthritis is calling for ongoing promotion of the scheme to people with arthritis and improvements to the way it operates, so that people with arthritis do not face barriers to getting the right support.