NRAS and the CBI launch video to encourage employers to provide better support for employees

18 September 2019

Today, Wednesday 18th September, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society in collaboration with the CBI launch a new video at an event at the King’s Fund which is aimed at encouraging all employers to provide better support to people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and other long term conditions in order to enable them to remain working.  Many people with RA lose their job within 5 years of diagnosis and yet, with better support, could remain working, independent and supporting their families.

Chief Economist at CBI talks 'Work Matters'

In the video, Ailsa Bosworth MBE, National Patient Champion for NRAS interviews Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI about the importance of employers providing the right kind of support for people with fluctuating long terms conditions like RA. The video was made as a consequence of findings from NRAS Report ‘Work Matters’, a national survey conducted by NRAS in partnership with Manchester University on the impact of RA and Adult Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (AJIA) (over 1200 took part) on work which highlighted the following:

  • The survey revealed that for many, if the demands of the job became more physically, emotionally or generally demanding, they would not be able to continue in the job.
  • People also indicated that they had to take annual leave in order to deal with flares and medical appointments.
  • Added to this, employees (including those currently on sick leave) rated their performance at work ‘worse’ than prior to diagnosis which is also likely to increase stress levels.
  • This survey demonstrates that many people with RA also suffer from depression and anxiety, supporting data from Public Health England showing that mental health issues and musculoskeletal conditions are the two highest causes of lost work days in the country.

Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation talks 'Work Matters'

A second video interviewing Neil Carberry, Managing Director of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the recruitment industry, highlights the importance of ensuring that companies understand how supporting people with long term conditions in the right way will enable them to tap into the widest pool of talent available. Providing a supportive and flexible approach to employment for people with long term conditions fosters loyalty amongst staff and is beneficial to employers and employees alike. The majority of employers in the UK are small to medium sized enterprises who do not have HR departments nor necessarily understand how best to support employees with RA and other similar long term fluctuating and often ‘invisible’ conditions and these videos will help them to understand what to do and how to support staff with such conditions more effectively and a video featuring highlights of these interviews and this event will be launched internationally on World Arthritis Day (12/10/19) as part of EULAR’s Campaign ‘Time to Work’ . Often the things that employers need to do and which can make an important difference are simple and inexpensive. NRAS, the CBI and the REC will be making these videos widely available through their respective social media networks. The messages in both videos align with the government’s next steps for reform in their report Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability. This publication sets out the Government’s plan to get one million more disabled people in work over the next ten years.

Clare Jacklin, NRAS CEO said “Government should incentivise employers to incorporate training of workforce, particularly line managers, in how to support employees with long-term conditions/disabilities and ensure this is included in all new employee induction processes. The emphasis should be on providing early support to prevent employees getting to a crisis point where job loss or reduction of hours is more likely or inevitable.”

The keynote speech at today’s launch will be given by Nick Davison, Head of Health Services at the John Lewis Partnership.


Notes to Editors

  • The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), is the only patient-led organisation in the UK specialising in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Due to its targeted focus on RA and JIA, NRAS provides truly expert and wide-ranging services to support, educate and campaign for people living with these complex autoimmune conditions, their families and the health professionals who treat them.

NRAS will launch the videos at the King’s Fund between 14.00-16.30 on Wednesday 18th September.  Guests, including NRAS Members and volunteers, healthcare professionals, professional bodies, industry representatives and charity partners, will join the launch. Other speakers include Professor Karen Walker-Bone BM, FRCP, PhD, Hon FFOM Director, Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, Louise Parker RN, BSc (Hons) MSc, NIP Lead Nurse – Rheumatology & Connective Tissue Disease, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Chair – Royal College of Nursing Rheumatology Forum and two young women with RA who have powerful stories to tell of their experience with employers.

About Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex and serious, systemic autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the joint tissue causing inflammation, stiffness, pain and extreme fatigue.
  • This chronic disease, which chiefly impacts upon joints can also affect other organs such as the heart, eyes and lungs.
  • RA impacts heavily on people of working age affecting more than 400,000 of the UK adult population, with approximately 26,000 new diagnoses each year. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is an inflammation in joints in children under 16yrs. Around 12,000 children in UK (1 in 1000) under the age of 16 have JIA, with 1 in 10,000 children being diagnosed each year.
  • Uncontrolled RA can cause premature mortality. RA is often confused with osteoarthritis, which is a different disease caused by wear and tear of the joints as we get older.


The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organisation which represents the people with arthritis/rheumatism, health professionals (HPR) and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.
The aims of EULAR are to reduce the burden of rheumatic diseases on the individual and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases.

Media Contact

If you would like to get in touch with Ailsa Bosworth MBE or any other expert from the NRAS please contact:
01628 823 524

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