Welfare reform MP calls for caution over sicknote issuing

Doctors should consider and reflect before they issue a sicknote as carefully as they consider and reflect before prescribing a drug, according to welfare reform minister Margaret Hodge.

Speaking at the International Medical Conference on Disability and Participation in the Workplace, Hodge said the government needed to work with doctors and explore alternatives to simply issuing sicknotes.

“Work is the best form of welfare, and that’s why we want a focus on people’s employment options and not just on their benefit options,” she said

“We need to change the culture that sees work as a threat to well-being. Rehabilitating people back to work should be part of the cure and can have a positive impact on their health.”

Recent figures show that most people return to work within three days to 6 weeks. However, 3,000 people each week become eligible for long-term sickness benefits having been off work for six months – 80% of those will not go back to a job for five years.

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