Ensuring access to employment support across Europe Brain disorders and pain due to musculoskeletal disorders are two of the biggest causes of long-term sick leave in Europe49. Over 40 million EU workers have musculoskeletal disorders caused by their work; representing almost 50% of all absences from work of three days or more and 60% of permanent work incapacity4. At current rates, half the European workforce will be diagnosed with a musculoskeletal disorder by 20304. Variations between Member States in the effect of neurological and chronic pain conditions on employment are considerable. For example, nearly twice the number of people in the Netherlands reported that they had lost their job as a result of their chronic pain (29%) as in Ireland or Belgium (15%)2 Employer’s liability generally drops the longer an employee is sick49, so assisting patients to return to work becomes less important for employers in long-term conditions than in acute ones. EU social and disability legislation is central to employment and educational opportunities for people with neurological and pain conditions. The 2000 Employment Equality Directive obliges Member States to eliminate discrimination on grounds of disability in employment and vocational training. The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 states that people with disabilities have the right to participate fully and equally in society and the and the Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and Social Inclusion (Social OMC) are important policy frameworks in this area, and most Member States use European Social Fund money to translate disability employment policy into action, for example through work experience schemes, wage subsidies and temporary sheltered employment. Examples of good practices could be applied more widely in Europe; for example, Finland offers all employees with long-term illnesses the opportunity to work part-time.
Ensuring access to treatment across Europe A major driver of a person’s ability to remain employed is access to diagnosis and then treatment that adequately controls their symptoms. Big health inequalities persist in the EU, and the existence of neurology resources and differs considerably between Member States. Many patients with neurological and chronic pain conditions cannot access effective treatment. Access to modern multiple sclerosis treatment ranges from 13% in Poland and 21% in the UK to 69% in Germany50. Across Europe, two thirds of people with brain disorders receive no treatment1 and 40% of people with chronic pain report that it is not adequately controlled2. Uncontrolled symptoms worsen the impact of these disorders: up to 70% of people with epilepsy could lead normal lives if properly treated, but for a majority this is not the case9. Improving Europewide access to existing treatments and supporting the development of innovative medicines to better treat these conditions is an important part of supporting employment and economic productivity among the large number of European patients and their caregivers.
the European academy of neurology suggests the following steps should be carried out across Europe in order to improve access to neurological services: » »
Develop a plan to implement acceptable standards of neurological services and care
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Find ways to attract and retain the best young European clinicians and scientists