Company: Weber Shandwick UK and Belgium
Company Description: Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to discovering new medicines, new technologies and new ways to manage health. Its products span the continuum of care, from nutritional products and laboratory diagnostics through medical devices and pharmaceutical therapies.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Public Affairs
Nomination Title: Fit for Work Europe
Tell the story about this nominated campaign since 1 January 2010 (up to 500 words). Be sure to cover the genesis, development, performance, and results of the campaign.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect 40m workers in Europe and are the greatest cause of work absenteeism after mental health. Early intervention can help people remain in work. But MSDs do not command the attention of cancer or heart disease despite accounting for £210bn in lost production in Europe.
Healthcare company Abbott asked Weber Shandwick to develop a public affairs campaign to put MSDs on the political agenda across Europe. The objectives were:
• Raise public and political awareness of the impact of MSDs on people’s ability to work, the importance of early diagnosis and intervention to allow patients to remain in work, and the socio-economic benefits
• Persuade rheumatologists, policymakers and health technology assessment bodies of the importance of considering work as a clinical and health economic target
• Change European policy so people with MSDs receive better prevention and care and are able to carry on working
Abbott partnered with think tank The Work Foundation to carry out groundbreaking research that for the first time demonstrated to patients, doctors, and politicians the benefits of early intervention.
The team ran a comprehensive healthcare professional and policymaker engagement programme in the UK and with Brussels policy influencers.
During 2009 and 2010 the public affairs campaign coupled advocacy at national and EU level with multi-stakeholder engagement:
• Meetings with hundreds of politicians at EU level and national level across Europe
• Fit for Work report launches in Brussels and national capitals
• Fit For Work reports published in Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Lithuania, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and Canada
• Fit for Work roundtables in the UK parliament, Italian Senate, French Assembly, among others
• Patients and doctors in Europe collaborating on Work Charters so employers and employees have approaches for keeping people with MSDs in work
No other health company or agency had commissioned research on how long-term chronic conditions affect patients’ ability to work. Fit for Work broke the mould of pharmaceutical company initiatives by partnering with a think tank to undertake serious policy development.
Fit for Work has changed policy and health service delivery in the UK and Europe, and is having a significant effect on the lives of people with MSDs, including:
• In the UK, patients are now given ‘Fit Notes’ rather than ‘sick notes’, so they have a definition of what they can do at work rather than what they can’t
• In Portugal, the cap for access to the best treatments has been raised so 20% more people can now stay in work
• In Italy, support for workers with MSDs is now mandatory for regional governments
• In Greece, a public-private collaboration has developed a national Guide for Citizens with Rheumatic Diseases
• In Denmark, additional funding has been earmarked for improving MSDs/chronic diseases
The Fit for Work Europe Coalition was launched on 30 September 2010 to bring the campaign’s policy and practice recommendations to national health systems.
The Fit for Work initiative has been recognised internally at Abbott as the best multistakeholder intitiative for leadership across its business, globally, naming it ‘Best of the Best' for 2010.
List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, video clips, work samples, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, [http://www.youraddress.com]:
Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of the team that carried out this nominated communications program:
John Lotspeich leads the health policy focus of the Weber Shandwick European health practice, having spent nearly two years in Brussels working on European Union health issues, specifically public health. A former journalist, he has nearly 20 years of communications and media experience, and has worked with private industry and non-governmental organisations including HIV in Europe, Roll Back Malaria, the Bone and Joint Decade, among others.