Fit for Work Europe is lead by the Work Foundation

and supported by AbbVie and GE Healthcare

A Position Paper for the Latvian Presidency of the European Council

Fit for Work Europe calls upon the Latvian government to consider the following policy positions
when deciding upon the health and work priorities of the Latvian Presidency:

 Develop, produce and disseminate through Eurostat a new framework for collecting
quality standardised data on the prevalence and incidence of chronic conditions, including
musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), in the Member States. Some Member States define very
precisely the various chronic condition complaints recognised by them, whilst others list
diseases by major groups, without going into detail. The new framework should support
Member States to register the various diagnoses associated with chronic conditions in a
standardised way. In addition, the framework should enable operations such as cross-
country analyses and segregation of data by gender, working age, diagnosis group, etc.
 Develop and implement National Plans for Chronic Conditions, including MSDs, to
maximise chances to stay in, or return to work as soon as possible. These build on the
European Commission’s recommendation that Member States should adopt active labour
market policies (ALMPs) to foster economic growth. The National Plans should encourage
the enforcement of existing national legislation requiring reasonable, flexible workplace
adjustments by employers that can help people with chronic diseases stay in work or
reintegrate into the workforce. The National Plans should also focus on the reallocation of
budgets and coordinated planning of services which deliver prevention, accurate diagnosis,
early intervention and the management of chronic diseases such as MSDs, which are
impacting on the working-age population.
 Support Member States to appoint and empower National Directors for Health and Work
who report to and coordinate policy among Health, Social and Finance Ministries. A core
part of this role should be to facilitate coordinated action across ministries (government
departments) and the sharing of the benefits of joint investments. These National Directors
should be experts who command respect amongst all stakeholders and who will deliver
novel, strategic and integrated approaches to health and work policy and practice across
national health, employment, social affairs and finance ministries (departments).
 Make Early Intervention (prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care) and return to work a
priority of Chronic Disease management. Despite the magnitude of MSDs in Europe, they
are still undiagnosed in over 40% of cases. We highlight two tools which can serve as useful
best practices:
 MSD Early Intervention Pilot in Spain. The Spanish Early Intervention clinic pilot
demonstrates the positive impact on MSD patient health and the economy, resulting
in a 39% reduction in temporary work disability and 50% decrease in permanent
work disability.
 UK Fit Note. The Fit Note, introduced in 2010, promotes effective prevention and
accurate diagnosis via regular meaningful dialogue on a patient’s workability status
(capacity to perform specific tasks) between people with chronic conditions and
healthcare professionals – either GPs or occupational health physicians.

Fit for Work Europe is lead by the Work Foundation
and supported by AbbVie and GE Healthcare

About Fit for Work Europe

Fit for Work Europe is a multi-stakeholder Coalition, driving policy and practice change across the work and
health agendas. We aim to deliver more investment in sustainable healthcare by promoting and
implementing early intervention practices. Research shows this approach is the most effective way of
ensuring people with MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) can enter and remain in work across the EU and
globally. Fit for Work Europe is led by The Work Foundation, supported by AbbVie and GE Healthcare. For
more information please visit


Founding President - Prof Stephen Bevan,
Executive Director - Antonella Cardone,
Project Manager - Ioana Piscociu,
Phone: +4420 7976 35 26
The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London, SW1H 0AD, UK