Sicknote survey: extended findings

Most
doctors and many HR professionals are sick of the UK’s sicknote culture and
want big changes in the issuing system, according to a major survey conducted
by Personnel Today and Doctor magazine.

Sensationally,
82 per cent of doctors say they think responsibility for the issuing of
sicknotes should be taken away from GPs, and 42 per cent of HR professionals
agree with them.

But
opinion is divided as to who should issue sicknotes:


Specialised occupational health centres are the choice of 54 per cent of
doctors and 39 per cent of HR professionals.
● Only 8 per cent of HR professionals think in-house certification by
companies is the answer, an option favoured by 49 per cent of doctors.
● 48 per cent of HR professionals say occupational health physicians
should issue sicknotes,
● Just 1 per cent of HR professionals favour self-certification compared
to 21 per cent of doctors.

Recent
CBI figures put the annual cost of sickness absence to the UK economy at
between £10bn and £12bn, producing an average per capita cost of over £430 per
employee. This figure is likely to rise, as 48 per cent of doctors in the
survey reported that they issued more sicknotes in the past year than
previously. 79 per cent of HR professionals say they are seeing more sicknotes
than a year ago.

One
reason for the rise is that sicknotes are being issued more easily than before,
according to 77 per cent of doctors and 93 per cent of HR professionals.

Stress-related
ailments play a major part in this rise. When asked "which three ailments
are you most frequently issuing sicknotes for?":


85 per cent of doctors said stress
● 83 per cent depression
● 62 per cent bad backs.


78 per cent of HR professionals say they are seeing more sicknotes for stress
● 60 per cent say they are seeing a rise in sicknotes for depression
● 55 per cent say they have seen a rise in sicknotes for bad backs.

Colds
and flu are also on the increase, according to HR professionals.

Why
this startling rise in sicknotes?


Increasing patient pressure say 72 per cent of doctors and 79 per cent of HR
professionals
● 22 per cent of doctors blame shorter consultation times – a view shared
by 56 per cent of HR professionals.
● Some 34 per cent of doctors and HR professionals say the rise in
sicknotes is a "natural effect of society today"
● 29 per cent of doctors and 20 per cent of HR professionals say it’s due
to increased pressure on GPs.

Finally,
35 per cent of HR professionals suspect sicknotes come from malingerers
(doctors were not asked that question).

The
joint Personnel Today/Doctor survey questioned more than 1,000 HR
professionals and 300 doctors.

By
John Charlton

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