A new report from NHS Digital has found that mental health and behavioural conditions made up 31 per cent of all sick notes issued by GP practices in England between December 2014 and March this year.
During that period, nearly 1.8 million notes were issued by doctors where the diagnosis was mental health or behavioural concerns. And of these episodes, approximately one in five notes were for a period of absence of over 12 weeks.
Anxiety and stress-related conditions appear to be concerning, with the number of notes written for this climbing by about 14 per cent between 2015/2016 and 2016/2017. January of this year saw the highest number of notes handed out, with 556,000 issued by surveyed practices over the month.
Chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens commented on the findings and was quoted by the BBC as saying: “These figures explain why the NHS is now putting mental health front and centre, in what was recently independently described as ‘the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses’.”
And Jed Boardman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists made further comments, saying that more now needs to be done to help people get back to their jobs. This could include staggered work days or coming up with agreed goals for the person returning to work – which GPs will suggest on these fit notes.
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