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The insurance giant’s BacktoBetter has proven its worth to larger corporate clients who have seen claim costs reduced on average by 15% and by as much as 30%. Now the service, which enables employees to gain prompt treatment for MSK condition without having to see their GP, will be included as a standard benefit in Aviva’s SME-targeted Solutions private medical insurance plan.

The latest figures from the Health & Safety Executive demonstrate the continued impact of MSK conditions on businesses. Some 41% of all work-related illnesses are attributed to musculoskeletal disorders which embrace back, upper limb and lower limb issues. The evidence suggests these affect a variety of trades and professions and can be caused by tasks – such as manual handling and keyboard work – adopting awkward and tiring positions and through accidents.

Few industries could claim to be immune. So, whilst as might be expected the box-shifting nature of postal and courier work places them top of the overall MSK case rate pile, health professionals are among those suffering the highest prevalence of back disorders.

MSK results in 7.5 million working days lost every year

In announcing the upgrade to Solutions Aviva also pointed to the staggering 7.5 million working days that are lost every year through MSK conditions. Its desire to address the issue is also no doubt fuelled by its own SME client records which show that 27% of claims are MSK related.

“If not treated quickly and effectively, injuries can get worse, productivity can drop and the cost of claims spend and absence can quickly rise,” explained Doug Wright, Aviva UK Health’s medical director. “BacktoBetter addresses these issues and over 20,000 employees have already benefited from the service and returned to work quickly.”

Experience in the larger corporate sector show that the scheme reduces the need for specialist referrals. Whilst unmanaged claims generated an onward referral rate of 60% the use by BacktoBetter of evidence-based clinical pathways and evaluation cut that figure to just 25%.

The rehabilitation service will be offered within Solutions’ core cover from December 1st and among the benefits it will offer is excess-free physiotherapy treatment. Whilst the policy offers treatment without GP referrals as standard, companies will also be able to top-up cover by including a Routine and GP services option. This can be used to access consultations and diagnostic tests when an employee suffers a chronic condition and, if they are stricken by an acute condition, monitoring through follow up consultations and treatments.

Of course Aviva is only one of a number of private health insurance providers to offer access to preventative and rehabilitative programmes. In January 2014 AXA PPP Healthcare launched a Musculoskeletal Health Pathway which also offers members of its corporate health insurance schemes the ability to self-refer without the need for GP intervention. BUPA provides musculoskeletal services at clinics across the UK which are available to members of its own schemes and those insured through other private health providers.

Musculoskeletal conditions in the workplace

  •  439,000: The total number of musculoskeletal disorders cases in Great Britain estimated by the 2011/12 Labour Force Survey.
  • 141,000: The estimated number of new MSK conditions in 2011/12.
  • 41: Percentage of all work related illnesses attributed to musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 35: Percentage of employers’ claim costs attributed to MSK conditions.
  • Post & courier, agriculture, specialised construction: The three industries with the highest MSK rates
  • Manual handling, awkward/tiring positions, keyboard work: Main work activities considered to have caused or exacerbated MSK conditions
  • 176,000: Estimated number of work-related back disorders in 2011/12
  • Health professionals, skilled trades and caring, leisure and other service occupations: Recorded the highest estimated back disorder prevalence rates.
  • 177,000: Estimated number of upper limb disorders in 2011/12
  • Human health and social work: Recorded the highest rates of upper limb disorder 2009-2012.
  • 86,000: Estimated number of lower limb disorders 2011/12
  • 27: Percentage of Aviva Health UK SME claims triggered by MSK conditions



If you’d like advice on which company medical scheme is right for your business, then one of our business health insurance and employee benefits specialists will be pleased to offer you a free and impartial review. For an informal discussion just call on the number above.

Sources: Musculoskeletal Disorders in Great Britain 2013, Health & Safety Executive: Aviva Health UK press release, September 25th 2014; Cover magazine, December 2013.