John Spellar

Labour MP for Warley

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50,662 in Sandwell living with back pain, says John Spellar MP


In Sandwell, 50,662 people are living with the devastating impact of back pain.

That’s the shocking truth highlighted by new statistics released today by charity Arthritis Research UK and local MP John Spellar.

The statistics were released alongside the launch of a new report from charity Arthritis Research UK, called ‘Working with arthritis’, which looks at solutions to give people living in daily pain the support they need to find and stay in work.

Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions like back pain affect one in six of us. Just 60% of working age people living with the condition are currently in work.

These conditions can cause extreme pain, stiffness and fatigue that can make every day work tasks such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and typing very difficult.

Now Arthritis Champion MP John Spellar (pictured at the Arthritis Research UK report launch) has pledged to join forces with Arthritis Research UK to fight for better support to enable people with arthritis to find and stay in work.

At last year’s election, the MP became an ‘Arthritis Champion’ for local people, backing Arthritis Research UK’s ‘Prevent, Transform, Cure’ manifesto.

Commenting on the statistics, John Spellar said:

“It’s clear how enormous the impact of conditions like back pain and arthritis is on our local communities. 50,662 residents are living with back pain in Sandwell right now – a staggering 16.27% of local people.

“The ability to work is something that we often take for granted, but I’ve learnt today that for those living with arthritis this can be an incredibly difficult task. Undoubtedly thousands of local people with arthritis want to work, but do not always have the necessary support to be able to do so.

“That’s why I’m delighted to welcome Arthritis Research UK’s ‘Working with arthritis’ report, putting this vital issue on the map. We must work together to ensure people with arthritis who are able to work have the right support and employment opportunities.”


Olivia Belle, director of external affairs at Arthritis Research UK, commented:

“I’m delighted that Sandwell’s Arthritis Champion John Spellar is joining us on this mission to give people with arthritis the right support and opportunities to work, enabling them to live their life to the full.

“The current situation for people living with the daily pain of arthritis is untenable. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain are the number one cause for workplace sickness absence in the UK, and it’s only going to get worse.

“Our retirement age has increased and we’re an ageing working population, so even more people are going to be living with the pain and unpredictability of arthritis, and face an uncertain working future.

“But with the right kind of support and job; work can benefit your mental and physical health as well as financial position.

“We now urgently need to see political action to address the employment needs of people with long term conditions such as arthritis.”

To find out more about working when you are living with arthritis please visit our website at


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