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Airing Pain 75: Back to Work

How to move from sick leave to ‘good work’

This edition is funded by a grant from the Moffatt Charitable Trust.

As many as a quarter of people with chronic pain go on to lose their jobs, so what can be done to make staying in work more achievable? We look for answers in this first of two episodes focusing on employment.

‘With the right support, many people on sick leave, could be in work or helped back to work faster’, says Dame Carol Black, independent expert advisor to the government. She explains why ‘good work’ – work where people are listened to, respected and have some control – is not only important for our mental well-being, but can even prevent back pain.

The result of Dame Black’s report into this issue was the government’s Fit for Work scheme. Occupational therapist Gerry McFeely describes how the programme aims to help those on sick leave to develop a Return to Work Plan.

Issues covered in this programme include: Employment, mental health, role of employers, accessibility, barriers to the workplace, CBT: cognitive behavioural therapy, sickness absence, occupational therapy, society and policy.


  • Louise Coupland, Employability Development Officer and ‘My Skills, My Strengths, My Right to Work’ Programme Leader at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
  • Dame Carol Black, Expert Advisor on Health and Work to Public Health England in the Department of Health
  • Gerry McFeely, Macmillan Consultant Occupational Therapist for Cancer and Long Term Health Conditions Specialising in Vocational Rehabilitation, Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh.
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