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Working for a healthier tomorrow
  1. Carel T J Hulshof
  1. Carel T J Hulshof, Academic Medical Center, Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Amsterdam; c.t.hulshof{at}

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“As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey” (Thomas A. Edison, 1847–1931).

Work, matched to one’s knowledge and skills and undertaken in a safe, healthy and supportive environment, can reverse the harmful effects of prolonged sickness absence or long-term unemployment, and promote health, well-being and prosperity. In spite of this, over 170 million working days were lost to illness in the UK in 2006 and around 7% of the working-age population are workless and receiving incapacity benefits. This waste of human potential represents a significant economical and societal cost, and impedes the prospects of many young people, the working-age population of tomorrow. Government, employers and trade unions, healthcare workers and the voluntary sector should unite to help people enter, stay in or return to work by prevention of illness and promotion of health and well-being, early intervention in case of sickness absence, and an improvement in the health of those out of work.

This is the main message of the important report “Working for a healthier tomorrow”, which reviews the health of Britain’s working-age population.1 With a stream of publicity and accompanying activities, this report was presented by the author, Professor Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, to the Secretaries of State for Health and for Work and Pensions in March 2008. The report, supported by 260 responses to a Call for Evidence and supplemented by six discussion events …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.