Almost 70,000 sick notes issued in Northumberland

Tens of thousands of sick notes were given to workers in the Hartlepool area last year, new figures show.
Almost 70,000 sick notes issued.Almost 70,000 sick notes issued.
Almost 70,000 sick notes issued.

Since 2012, GPs have been able to give patients electronic – which say whether the patient is too sick to return to work, or give other recommendations, such as a phased return.

NHS Digital data shows 69,505 of these ‘fit notes’ notes were issued for patients in the Northumberland area in the year to June – equivalent to 36,602 for every 100,000 registered working-aged patients.

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Nationally, the number of fit notes rose to 10.4 million – up 8.6% from 9.5 million in the year to June 2019.

The data also shows there has also been a significant national increase in their duration – with 132,000 fit notes issued for leave of 20 weeks or longer.

This is an increase of 42% from 93,000 three years prior – with 'long Covid' suspected of making a significant contributing to the rise, along with lengthy NHS treatment waiting lists for NHS treatment caused by the pandemic.

In addition, 4.3 million notes (42%) were for leave of a month or longer – up from 3.3 million – 34% – in 2018-19.

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Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that, nationally, the number of people off work due to long-term sickness is at all-time high, with 2.49 million now 'economically inactive' due to ill health.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said they have published updated guidance to employers on how to support employees that are managing a health condition.