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Chronic illness and resilience in the veterinary industry

02 April 2022
8 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 3


Chronic illnesses affect approximately 26 million people in the UK, with 10 million people having multiple conditions. The effect of often ‘invisible illnesses’ can be debilitating in their symptoms, compounded by the associated stigma, fear and anxiety the individuals suffer. This article looks at a small selection of chronic illnesses and their effects, as well as how to help colleagues or staff, and ensure consideration is given to all the team, no matter how ‘healthy’ they appear.

Chronic illnesses are classified as conditions for which there is currently no cure, that require long-term medical treatment and management with drugs and other therapies (Kings Fund, 2021). An estimated 26 million people in the UK have at least one long-term health condition, with 10 million people affected by two or more (Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), n.d.; British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), 2021). In the veterinary industry, one in 14 people report they have a disability or chronic health condition that limits their ability to complete daily work tasks, while many more may be uncomfortable admitting it (Cawston, 2020).

Often, chronic conditions and illnesses are immediately considered to be those that are obvious and perhaps, visible. However chronic conditions and illnesses also include those that are ‘invisible’, for example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, Asperger's syndrome, autism, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn's disease, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, coeliac disease, depression, diabetes, lupus, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, Tourette's and many more (UKS Mobility, 2016; British Veterinary Chronic Illness Support (BVCIS), 2021a; BVNA, 2021).

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