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NZMA Endorses Health Benefits Of Work Statement

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZMA Endorses Health Benefits Of Work Statement

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) has endorsed an Australasian consensus statement, released today, which seeks to promote the health benefits of work to improve the welfare of individuals, families and communities.

"There is compelling international and Australasian evidence that supports the correlation between work and good health, while long-term absences and unemployment have an adverse impact on health and wellbeing," says NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

"It's important that we look to reduce the negative impact of accidents and illness in the long-term for individuals and help them, wherever possible, to assist their transition into the workforce."

Dr Foley says that despite the evidence available the message about work benefitting health and wellbeing has not yet achieved widespread acceptance in Australia or New Zealand.

"We do need a shift in thinking and practice to improve the health outcomes of those who are not currently working because of disability, illness or other disadvantage."

Dr Foley emphasises however, that while the NZMA supports the consensus statement it is disappointed that the statement did not adequately acknowledge that some types of non-paid work also have an overall beneficial effect on people.

"The NZMA recognises that there are many situations in which non-paid employment has a beneficial effect on individuals, families and societies. This includes, but is not limited to, at-home parenting and care of unwell or disabled family members."

In promoting the work and good health connection, Dr Foley says that doctors have an important role to play.

"Doctors can help patients navigate their entry or re-entry into the workforce by offering advice on the necessary support needed. Ultimately it's about focussing on what our patients can do and enabling them to work within those parameters."

Dr Foley says whether individuals are seeking to enter the workforce for the first time or attempting to return to work after a period of injury or illness, it can be a complex situation. "Good outcomes are more likely when individuals recognise the health benefits of work so that they are empowered to take responsibility for their own recovery and re-entry into the workforce."

The position statement was initiated by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), and has been endorsed by many organisations including the NZMA, the Ministry of Health, ACC and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

Dr Foley says that all signatories to the statement have a shared goal to improve the welfare of our society and improve health outcomes overall.

"We would like to see the consensus statement as the foundation for further discussion among employers, individuals, government and other groups about how we can best achieve the health benefits of work in our society. It is a timely document, especially when our social benefits system is undergoing evaluation."

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