Doctors receive 22 million requests for sicknotes every year, andÊbelieveÊ9
million of these are suspect, according to insurer Norwich Union.
Its Health of the Nation Index found that GPs think almost a quarter of the
577 requests for sicknotes they each get a year are questionable, at best, and
nearly a fifth are invalid.
AlmostÊ3 million workers across the country admitted they would consider
asking their GP for a bogus sicknote, with twice as many men than women saying
they would cheat the system.
More than a fifth of the GPs interviewed said up to 20 per cent of their
patients were unable to work because of health reasons.
However, many GPs thought the numbers of people on sick leave could be
reduced if there were fewer delays in treatment, and if organisations arranged
to have their employees back to work in a different capacity.
Four out of 10 of the GPs interviewed thought more than a third of their
patients who were unable to work could actually work a few hours a day or in a
slightly different role, but employers were not encouraging them to return to
The most frequent causes for sicknote requests were back pain, followed by
depression, workplace stress, other stress-related problems and the flu
The top five reasons for requesting a sicknote were: a personal crisis that
could not be discussed with an employer, workplace too stressful, a holiday
request refused, and "to give me a legitimate excuse to skive off
Doug Wright, clinical development manager at Norwich Union Healthcare, said:
"If patients were to educate themselves more about their condition, as
well as the other forms of support available, this could not only reduce the
numbers seeing GPs, but will actually benefit patients’ health in the