Occupational health news in brief

Benefit change success

The number of people deemed fit for work and not eligible for sickness benefit has doubled since the government replaced Incapacity Benefit with the new Employment and Support Allowance last year, according to Department for Work Pensions figures. It said that of the 193,800 people who claimed ESA between October 2008 and February 2009, 36% were fit to work and not eligible for the benefit. Under Incapacity Benefit the average success rate for claims was 17%.

H1N1 vaccination

The government’s long-awaited swine flu vaccination programme was due to get under way last month, with GPs starting to call in patients from 21 October. Within the NHS, hospital bosses have been urged by the Department of Health to ensure the maximum number of front-line staff receive the vaccination, amid reports that some trusts expect as few as 10% to 20% of staff to take it.

RCN OH Wales launched

RCN Occupational Health Wales has launched a website, www.rcn.org.uk/aboutus/wales, after its first conference in September. A new award, the RCN Occupational Health Wales Award, has also been launched, with the aim of recognising the work of OH nurses and technicians. The closing date for entries is May 2010.

Long-term back pain

Four out of 10 back pain sufferers recover within a year, and more than one third of those with chronic low back pain recover within nine months, according to Australian research published in the BMJ. But medics from Keele University have argued in the same journal that, research is needed on patients over longer timescales.

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