By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES joined Welsh Health Minister Lesley Griffiths on the Senedd steps on Tuesday to help kick-off Work Out At Work Day 2012.

Organised by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Workout at Work Day on June 19th was created to encourage people to be more physically active in order to combat stress and avoid musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain.

The two North East Wales AMs started the days events with a pre-work walk around Cardiff Bay at 7.30am.

As part of the event the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) published a new report which revealed that office workers in Wales are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night at home.

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said:

“I’m delighted to help kick off Work Out At Work Day 2012 and encourage everyone to improve their physical activity in the workplace. As an employer I have an important responsibility to make sure my staff stay fit and healthy at work and avoid unnecessary injury.

“It’s actually quite easy to build more exercise into the daily work routine and become more active. It can significantly improve mental as well as physical health and I’m delighted to take part in the range of events organised this year.

“As the survey conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy shows, the increased levels of work being done at home or on a mobile device is impacting on people’s overall health. We need to take more responsibility for our own health and events like these will certainly help.”

PHILLIPA FORD, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy policy officer for Wales, said:

“A happy, healthy workforce is a productive one and it is very important that employers ensure they do what they can to look after the wellbeing of their staff.

“Sickness absence can be devastating for the individual and very expensive for employers and society at large so encouraging better working habits is in everyone’s interest.

“Workout at Work Day is a great opportunity to demonstrate the easy, low-cost ways people can be more physically active on a daily basis and hopefully act as a launchpad for healthier lifestyles.”

Office workers in Wales are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night at home, a new survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveals.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of office workers polled in Wales for the CSP said they continued working on smartphones and other devices after they left the office, and spent an average of two hours 42 minutes doing so.

These stints came on top of an average of six hours 27 minutes in front of a screen in the office during their regular working day.

The UK averages were two hours 18 minutes of work at home after six hours 22 minutes in front of a screen in the office.

On Workout at Work Day about 300 physiotherapists will go into workplaces across the UK to demonstrate easy, low-cost ways for employers to help their staff lead healthier lives.

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Notes for Editors:

The survey of office workers in Wales also revealed:

• 53 per cent of office workers said their out of hours working had increased in the past two years, but of these people just 13 per cent said their boss was trying to do anything about it.

• The main reasons cited for doing extra work were to ‘ease the pressure of the working day’ (32 per cent) and ‘want to keep up to date 24/7’ (32 per cent), and ‘too much work to do’ (33 per cent).

• 37 per cent of people surveyed said additional work at home helped reduce their overall stress levels

• A worrying 26 per cent want their boss to offer counselling services for stress.

Physiotherapists are concerned that ‘over working’ is storing up both physical and mental health problems for the future – particularly since 66 per cent of those surveyed reported suffering job-related ill health such as headaches and back pain.

The CSP warned that poor posture when using smartphones and other mobile devices – which many people do their additional work on – can lead to back and neck pain.

Fewer than one in four people told the survey that they considered their posture when looking at screens outside of work. Long hours can also contribute to stress-related illness.

The CSP hopes employers will become more aware of the need to keep their staff healthy, and will use Workout at Work Day to encourage better working habits among staff. Simple low cost measures include:

• Encouraging staff to report any concerns about their health at an early stage

• Encouraging staff to take regular breaks and be physically active during lunchtimes

• Displaying leaflets and posters promoting good posture, health advice and activities for staff

• Arranging and supporting activities that help staff to get active, like lunchtime walking clubs

• Creating links with local gyms and clubs

• Implementing a Cycle to Work scheme and taking advantage of a tax exemption enabling you to loan to staff cycles and cycling equipment as a tax-free benefit

• Encouraging active travel to and from work e.g. cycling, walking and running

• Encouraging workstation assessments to reduce and treat musculoskeletal disorders.

Access to physiotherapy, fitness classes and ergonomically-designed chairs were three services that many workers in the survey said they would like their employer to pay for.

The CSP has produced a new free leaflet in association with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development called ‘Under Pressure’. This looks at the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, with advice on staying happy and healthy at work.

For more information about Workout at Work Day or to access free leaflets with advice on staying fit for work, visit http://www.csp.org.uk/wowd The Twitter hashtag for the day is #workoutatwork

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

AM makes carers week call

LABOUR AM KEN SKATES today paid tribute to carers across North East Wales who look after an ill, frail or disabled loved one.

This week is Carers Week which aims to highlight the vital contribution made by carers to their families and their communities.

The theme for the week is ‘In Sickness and in Health’ which focuses on the need for greater support for unpaid carers to help them continue in their caring role without facing ill health, stress or financial worry.

Research done by charities for Carers Week, show two in five unpaid carers put off medical treatment because of the demands of their role.

LABOUR’S KEN SKATES said:

“Caring for a loved one can be mentally and physically exhausting and place a burden financially and on family relationships.

“Carers provide a vital role in our communities and it’s imperative we recognise their contribution and encourage employers, organisations and staff to support them as much as possible.

“We need to support carers and all the work they do. Research has shown that often carers sacrifice their own health to look after a loved one with two in five carers putting off medical treatment because of the demand of their role.

“We need a more sustainable social care sector and the Welsh Government is currently looking at major reforms in this area. It’s wrong that carers sometimes don’t get the support they need especially as they contribute so much to our communities.”

Carers Week is run by a group of eight charities including Age UK, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society and Parkinson’s UK.

Carers Week is organised by a partnership of eight national charities: Age UK, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society and Parkinson’s UK.

For more information about the events and activities taking place as part of Carers Week, visit www.carersweek.org.

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Editor’s Notes

• The Carers Week survey shows that 83% of carers suffered physical health problems associated with caring for an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend, with 36% sustaining an injury such as back pain. A total of 87% said caring had been detrimental to their mental health.

* Ken Skates has signed up to the below Statement of Opinion that was raised by Labour’s Mid and West Wales Assembly Member Rebecca Evans.

• This Assembly expresses its respect for the thousands of people in Wales who provide unpaid help, care and support to a relative or friend who, because of frailty, illness or disability, would not otherwise be able to manage;

• Notes that Carers Week, a partnership of national charities, takes place this year from 18th to 24th June; and

• Calls upon the Welsh Government to continue to support carers and ensure that they are signposted to support services, offered respite and get the advice and information they need to look after themselves and the people they care for.

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, has called on politicians in Wales, Scotland and Ireland to support a future Celtic bid for the European Football Championships.

Speaking at the 44th British and Irish Parliamentary Association meeting in Dublin, the Labour AM said the benefits to the Welsh economy of part-hosting a tournament could be highly significant. During the event, attended by the Irish Taoiseach, the Clwyd South AM said the Welsh Government should join together with the Scottish Executive and Irish Governments to examine the possibility of a renewed bid.

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said: “The Welsh Government is committed in its Programme for Government to working with national, UK and international sports federations to ensure that more major sporting events are hosted in Wales in the future.

“The possibility of a joint Celtic bid for the European Football Championships has been discussed many times in the past and Uefa has made encouraging comments about the possibility of a joint Welsh bid with either Scotland or Ireland.

“I am calling for a united political effort to examine the possibility of such a bid and the feasibility of hosting a successful tournament. The European Championships will soon become a 24 team tournament so a joint bid is the only option for countries of our size.

“The economic times are difficult right now, but the option of exploring a bid in collaboration with other Celtic football associations in possibly 2024 or 2028 should be part of our long-term focus. The benefits to our healthy living agenda in Wales, the boost to tourism and the impact it could have on our wider economy could be highly significant.

“The Welsh Government need to look carefully at the possibility of future support and the infrastructure improvements that would be needed for a successful bid.

“From the discussions I have had with Scottish and Irish colleagues there is a lot of interest and support out there to see what can be achieved.”

In answer to a question from Ken Skates during the Plenary session, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD said the Irish Government was supportive of examining the possibility of a bid and that he would approach the Irish FA for talks. -Ends-

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By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, has called on the Welsh Government to tackle the impact alcohol-related problems are heaving on communities in North East Wales.

Speaking during First Minister’s questions on Tuesday, the Clwyd South AM welcomed the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” campaign to improve people’s awareness of how much alcohol they consume but said those suffering from addiction needed better support.

In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said: “We know that alcohol is one of the three highest risk factors for reduced life expectancy and linked to a whole host of preventable diseases. More than this it also affects other people quite significantly and is having a clear impact on communities in North East Wales.

“In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.

“The worrying thing is that often these problems start at an early age. A recent report by Alcohol Concern highlighted that children as young as 10 in North Wales are more able to recognise alcoholic drinks brands than those of best-selling ice creams or cakes.

“The issue highlights a wider problem we have with drink in Wales, with the cost to the NHS of excess alcohol consumption believed upwards of £69m a year. Tackling the problem of excessive drinking and the impact it has on the health of our nation is probably the number one public health challenge we face in 2012.

“There is an established link between issues like crime, mental health problems, domestic abuse and alcohol, and in some areas like North East Wales this is causing real problems in our communities.

“We need to work closely with our local authorities, the local health board, the police and the licensing trade to make our communities safer and make sure individuals with drink-related problems get the help they need.”

Latest figures show there were almost 500 alcohol-related deaths in Wales in 2010. Based on the worst case scenario published in The Lancet, annual deaths could exceed 700 a year in Wales over the course of the next two decades, equivalent to 14,000 in the 20-year period.

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More information on the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” can be found at: www.change4lifewales.org.uk

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

KEN SKATES AND SUSAN ELAN JONES, have called on councils in Wrexham and Denbighshire to work together to fund school transport in Llangollen.

Recently it was announced that Ysgol Dinas Bran had voted to provide transport itself for learners coming from the traditional catchment area of Chirk from 2012 after Wrexham Council voted to stop funding the service. The Labour MP Susan Elan Jones said she welcomed news that school children would continue to have access to free school transport, but AM Ken Skates added the funding burden should not fall on schools when councils couldn’t work together.

SUSAN ELAN JONES MP said: “I welcome news that schoolchildren in Chirk will continue to get free school transport to Ysgol Dinas Bran.  This is an issue that has been on-going for a long time, causing significant concern to parents as well as pupils who currently attend the school.

“Maintaining the strong bond that exists between the two communities is vital and I’m pleased parents will be free to choose the school that is right for their children.”

KEN SKATES AM said: “I welcome this decision, but am disappointed that it is the school that has had to step in and fund transport that the local authorities should be paying for.  Wrexham and Denbighshire Councils need to get together to ensure that vital money that is intended to be spent on children’s education is not diverted away for school transport.

“The Minister for Local Government Carl Sargeant has made it very clear that councils need to collaborate more effectively to ensure delivery of services for our constituents gets better.

“I am clear in my mind that this is an example of where local authorities in North East Wales could collaborate more closely to provide better services for people living and working on the border between Wrexham and Denbighshire.

“I would like to see Wrexham and Denbighshire get together and sort this issue out so schools can spend their money on teaching our children, not mopping up after local authorities who cannot agree to do the right thing.”

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