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Latest Unum Data Supports NHS Focus on Increasing Resource for Mental Health and Musculoskeletal Conditions


Latest claims data published by employee benefits provider Unum reveals mental health and musculoskeletal related conditions were leading causes of long term work absences. These conditions were responsible for over a quarter of absence claims, rivalling cancer as the leading cause of claims.

The claims data reinforces the importance of the new NHS Long Term Plan, which was published this month and confirmed mental health and musculoskeletal conditions remain the leading reasons for sickness absence. The plan also reported that those who are off work for more than four weeks are more likely to fall out of work permanently.

Unum champions early intervention as the key to both reducing duration of absence and helping employees stay in work, and supports the new NHS ambition to see all businesses supporting their staff to remain in work.

Dr Zakir Abbas, Unum UK Chief Medical Officer, said:

“Although the latest data shows a high number of mental health related claims, we are also seeing our rehabilitation and early intervention services prove more successful than ever before in helping get people back to work.

“We know good work can be very beneficial for health and wellbeing, and employers have a pivotal role to play in helping their staff to stay well and in work. Supporting employers in preventing mental ill-health is a priority for us, and we welcome the Government’s commitment to doing more to help employers access the expert advice and support they need.”

Unum is a UK market leader in group income protection, which helps people with disabilities and those with health conditions to stay in or return to work, and can provide a financial benefit for those who are unable to work due to long-term ill health. Group Income Protection can help by providing:

  • employers easy access to early intervention and support from occupational physicians, psychologists, nurses, and vocational rehabilitation consultants;
  • advice on reasonable adjustments and ‘phased return’, working with the employer and employee to deliver a personalised return-to-work plan
  • support for staff to explore treatment options that could get them back to work sooner, such as CBT or physio appointments;
  • a way to help manage the cost of sickness absence in their organisation and provide financial support to staff who become unwell by continuing to pay them a percentage of their salary after they have been absent for a specified period of time;
  • support to prevent sickness absence in the first place, through services like employee assistance programmes, training for line managers (including on mental ill-health), and employee health and wellbeing seminars.


With over 15 years experience within the Recruitment industry, Mark considers digital publishing, digital engagement, recruitment marketing and advertising (all media), digital video production, creative design and more recently social media development as his core knowledge and where a lot of his experience lays.

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