The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Gutted with IBS at work? Don’t be…


By David Bailey – Managing Director, Medical Specialists Company Limited

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system that nearly all of us will have heard of in conversation. In fact, there is a probably good chance that you know somebody who is suffering from it. The symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Statistics to have been released into the public domain in recent years go a huge way in demonstrating how underestimated the seriousness is of IBS in the workplace, the demographic of sufferers and the financial burden it can place on the NHS and society in general.

It is estimated that certain complicated IBS tests at hospitals can drain the NHS of £3,000 for each examination. It would appear than men are getting off lightly, with women accounting for 70% of the 5,000 IBS-related hospital admissions during 2011 in England. In total, women aged between 40 and 44 comprised of these 5,000 visits. Along with back pain, symptoms connected to IBS are among the most common reasons for time off work and it is costing employers and the NHS millions each year.

Unfortunately for the 12 million Brits affected by IBS, the symptoms usually strike intermittently, sometimes at the most inconvenient of times and can massively impact the day to day lives for sufferers. One of major these impacts is the workplace. For some employers, it may be difficult to fully appreciate the stress than can be caused by trying to live and work with IBS, or empathise with somebody who has had to rush home because of a flare-up of their symptoms.

This is where employers come in. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that any employees, who are suffering with IBS, are well catered for and not made to feel isolated from the rest of their colleagues. After all, remember that a happy employee is a productive employee.

One of the most important things you as a business should immediately try to do is sit down and speak to your employee face to face. Try to get them to be open and honest about their condition. Understanding the extent of their predicament will give you the knowledge to consider the best course of action to take during the occasions when they are suffering with symptoms, creating easy access to toilet facilities and other potential issues.

For a supervisor or manager it may be challenging to offer sympathy for somebody suffering with IBS as it is similar to depression in the aspect that it is mainly a health problem on the inside of the body. However, businesses need to recognise that IBS is a widespread serious condition that is causing misery to millions, and more has to be done. At Medical Specialists Pharmacy, patients can have an online consultation and be prescribed treatment for IBS with next day delivery, without the need to take time off work to go to their doctor.

There are a wide range of problems and situations that could present themselves to IBS sufferers in regards to the workplace, and managers need to understand them more so they can accommodate them. For instance, trying to concentrate on a work task can seem an impossible mission for anybody with IBS when they need to get up to go to the toilet and then being required to quietly sit through meetings or presentations can be torturous. If possible, speak to your member of staff about slightly altering their job role so that they are not required to attend them.

Stress is one of the main causes for triggering IBS symptoms, and it should be minimised as much as possible. Encourage all staff, not just those with IBS, to make sure their workload is organised properly in an efficient manner. This way they will have a much better chance of meeting deadlines and not feeling overwhelmed.

For businesses all around the UK, we hope this guidance will provide you with more knowledge on how you can tackle IBS in the workplace. Nobody has to suffer in silence and by reaching out and speaking to your members of staff, you can both go on to enjoy a happier, pleasant working environment.

For more information about the treatments available, or to have an online consultation, visit www.medical-specialists.co.uk

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