17th February 2017

Submission to Government consultation on Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper

Deadline for submissions on UK government work and health plans

ParliamentFollowing our recent survey, we have today responded to the Government’s major new consultation called Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. The paper sets out the government’s proposals on ways to transform the employment prospects of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions such as migraine and other headache disorders. The scope of the consultation is very big and covers a range of issues including assessments for benefits, finding and retaining work, occupational health services and how to change employer attitudes.

Press release

‘Poor’ migraine work support attacked

Lost jobs spark action call on unmet needs

Government ministers and industry leaders face heavy pressure to undertake radical measures that would ensure adequate workplace backing for migraine sufferers and save many from unemployment.

It comes amid the deadline today for responses to ministers’ work and health proposals.

In the largest survey yet on work issues facing people with migraine or headache disorder, almost one in three respondents disagree or strongly disagree that they feel supported by employers and their migraine/headache disorder related needs are adequately met.

Nearly one in five of more than 850 respondents has lost a job through their condition, according to the study, from the charity The Migraine Trust, which accompanies its submission to green paper consultation on employment and health.

And this level rises to 38 per cent among those who recognise they have a disability.

The charity warns these shock figures must be heeded, since over eight millions Britons live with migraine – one in seven people.

Each year 25 million days are lost through migraine from UK work or school, cutting Britain’s economic size by £2.5 billion.

But though migraine is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma conbined, the condition remains the least publicly-funded of all neurological illnesses, relative to its economic impact.

Almost four in ten respondents to the survey agree or strongly agree their job is at risk, or is likely to be at risk, due to their migraine/headache disorder.

More than four in ten disagree or strongly disagree that their employment is sustainable and not likely to be affected by their migraine/headache disorder.

Almost half disagree or strongly disagree that their employer’s sickness absence policy fairly treats staff with fluctuating health conditions, such as migraine.

One in three indicate their employer’s inflexible policies and procedures.

Almost one in four agree or strongly agree their employer was reluctant to put support in place and what has been put in place does not support their needs,

Nearly half of these workers pinpoint their employer’s lack of understanding about their condition and its effect on them.

Nearly one in three disagree or strongly disagree that they feel supported returning to work after sickness absence.

More than one in seven report their employer’s unwillingness to support their migraine/headache disorder related needs.

Over six in ten have attended work during a migraine/headache disorder attack in the past year.

Almost one in two respondents to the survey agree or strongly agree that their progress at work has been hindered by their migraine/headache disorder

And one in six work part time on health-related grounds,

Despite Britain’s record employment rate, less than one in two disabled people have jobs.

Some 4.6 million people either disabled or long-term sick do not work.

Four in ten respondents to the charity’s research cited the government’s lack of incentive on their employer to support their migraine/headache disorder related needs.

Almost three in four believe employers should be expected to recruit, support and retain people with disabilities and health conditions.

The Migraine Trust points to a conflict between proposals in the green paper and the government’s priorities and budget, such as community pharmacy spending cuts.

The charity cites a lack of long-term commitment to the Neurology Intelligence Network and inadequate clarity on the role of the National Neurology Advisory Group in England.

It warns that cuts to services and a lack of strategic planning will lead to avoidable ill health and use of health services, negative impact on productivity and sickness absence at work, and to unemployment.

Hannah Verghese, the trust’s advocacy, policy and campaigns manager, said: “This research exposes poor support for employees who have frequent, short term sickness absence, due to their health condition or disability.

“It also reveals inadequate understanding and provision for employees with fluctuating sickness absence.

“Stigma over migraine is rife in employment and wider society.

“Being in work is not indicative of good health services, or that work, or the work environment, is healthy.

“There is a huge disparity between NHS clinical commissioning groups and regions on the existence and standard of headache services.

“Access to specialist health professionals is inconsistent, and varies from excellent to non-existent.

“It depends on sufferers’ proximity to a specialist centre and what access the primary care doctor has to seek further input.

“Moreover, there is a lack of robust local and nationally collated data to underpin health service improvements so that people with migraine and headache disorders receive the best possible care

“The government must act to ensure all employers help workers facing migraine or headache disorder.

“Clear public messaging on migraine and headache disorders are needed to improve the health and employment outcomes of sufferers and produce a shift in society’s wider attitude to these conditions.”


Notes to editors

Press contact: Paul Collins (Press Office, The Migraine Trust) 07703 605784  or use our contact form.

For immediate use: Friday 17 February 2017

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