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Monday 24th October 2016

Medical charity research highlights need for Employers, Government and the NHS to improve the working lives of people with Crohn’s and Colitis

23rd May 2011

New research published by the medical charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK (the working name for the registered charity, National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s disease) finds that 68% of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) feel that they have little or no control over their working conditions and a third receive minimal or no support from their employer. 

The research entitled “Crohn’s, Colitis and Employment - From career aspirations to reality” also included an employers’ survey (private sector only) in which 66% of employer responders either admit to being totally unaware of, or only to some extent aware of, the needs of employees with IBD.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK carried out the survey-based research to evaluate the long-term impact of IBD on career aspiration, opportunities and choices.  Interviews were carried out with 1,906 people – 1,107 with Crohn’s disease and 799 with Ulcerative Colitis. Approximately two thirds of the interviewees were in paid employment, one third were not in employment and 91 interviewees were young people aged between 16-25 years who were not yet in full-time employment.  

Launched with the support of Lord Prescott on World IBD Day (Thursday, 19th May 2011), the findings of the report show serious shortfalls in employer awareness and patchy provision of reasonable adjustment, such as access to a toilet when required.  The charity is seeking a Parliamentary Early Day Motion to boost understanding amongst policy makers, patients, employers, the NHS and Public Health bodies, to hold a dialogue that will raise awareness and improve support for people living and working with these conditions, and calls for increased prioritisation of quality service standards for IBD treatment and care within the NHS. 

Crohn’s and Colitis UK aims to increase the employment prospects for people with IBD and keep people who want to work, in work. It is hoped this report will provide the blueprint for further discussion to support all employees with chronic conditions.
The research highlights the fact that 78% of respondents worry about managing their symptoms (which can include urgent diarrhoea, extreme pain and fatigue) or flare-ups while at work and as a result of their condition, a third feel at risk of losing their jobs. Researchers were surprised to note just how many people with IBD soldiered in to work, despite feeling ill (80%).

Not only do employees with IBD have a high work ethic, 52% agree that they work harder to make up for any shortcomings as a result of their condition and 40% worry that their colleagues or managers think they are not “pulling their weight” at work on occasions.

The report which was supported by an educational grant from Abbott, the global health care company, further indicates that young pre-employed people with IBD find the prospect of gaining their first job a daunting challenge. A key factor since most are diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 29, at the start of their higher education or working lives.

Of the young people questioned, 69% feel that their IBD has prevented them from reaching their full educational potential, and over half have ruled out some career options. When thinking about future employment, most (82%) are worried about managing their symptoms; 66% are concerned about not being able to do their work adequately and 65% worry about employer flexibility.  

Commenting on the new findings Helen Terry, Director of Patient Information and Support at Crohn’s and Colitis UK, explains, “The Report shows a clear need to provide support for young people and improve the quality of careers guidance. Balancing the needs for many of the 250,000 people living with IBD in the UK to improve their working conditions can have a positive impact on individuals and on their work situation. We are asking employers to make “reasonable adjustments” such as easy access to toilets, time for doctor/hospital appointments separate from their holiday allowance and flexible working, which can make all the difference to those either in work or looking for work. Clearly other factors such as the prioritisation of the IBD Service Standards for patient treatment and care must also be taken into account.”

To receive a free copy of the Report or the Summary Findings, or if you would like to bring the findings of the Report to the attention of your local MP please email info@crohnsandcolitis.org.uk. For more information or support on Crohn’s and Colitis please call the Information Line on 0845 130 2233 or visit www. crohnsandcolitis.org.uk 

Please visit www.GoodDeskBadDesk.co.uk for a visual demonstration of how employers can make all the difference to the working lives of people with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.”


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