North Tyneside CCG doctors sign off tens of thousands of sick notes in a year

Health checks.
Health checks.

Doctors from North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) signed 70 fit notes, on average, every day in the last financial year, according to NHS figures.

Across the North Tyneside CCG, GPs issued a total of 25,536 between April 2017 and March this year.

That’s down on the previous 12 months, but the NHS says that a technical error meant the figures for February 2018 were under recorded.

People in work need a fit note, previously called a sick note, if they are off work for more than seven days. Up to that point they can self-certify that they are unwell.

Across England, 5.3 million fit notes were handed out in the 12 months.

The most recent monthly data, for March this year, shows that North Tyneside CCG had one of the 20 highest rates for notes given to working age patients in England. The highest rate was in the area covered by Halton CCG. The lowest rate was in Camden CCG.

Despite being called fit notes, most of those issued classify people as unfit for work. This was the case for 94% of the notes.

However, fit notes are also used to advise patients and their employers on getting back to work. This includes recommendations for an employee to make a phased return or work reduced hours or with limited duties.

The most common reasons that doctors signed people off work were mental and behavioural disorders, particularly stress, and back problems.

Women were signed off sick more than men. They received 57% of the fit notes in the 12 months.