§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many working days were lost in each of the past five years as a result of chronic back pain; and how many days were lost to mental illnesses. 
§ Ruth Kelly
I have been asked to reply.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Sheerman, dated 5 January 2004:
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the number of working days lost because of chronic back pain and mental illnesses. (140479)
The available information from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that, for the UK as a whole in the 12 month periods ending in August 2001, August 2002 and August 2003, respectively 117 million, 114 million and 108 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury. Comparable information is not available for earlier years.
Information about the types of illnesses or injuries which cause sickness absence is not collected in the LFS, so no figures for numbers of working days lost because of chronic back pain and mental illnesses are available.
As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to sampling error.