10,000 more sick notes issued by GPs in Norfolk and Waveney in the space of a year

Stock photo of a GP taking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Stock photo of a GP taking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Some 10,000 more sick notes were written for patients in Norfolk by GPs in 2018 compared to the year before - with the main cause being mental disorders.

New figures released by the NHS showed that across Norfolk and Waveney's clinical commissioning group areas, there were 155,576 sick notes written in 2017, but this jumped to 165,777 in 2018.

The most notes, also known as fit notes, tended to be handed out in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, and Norwich and a spokesman for the NHS in the county said: "GPs will only sign fit notes when they believe their patient is not fit to work. We are not aware of any underlying reason for any rise in requests for fit notes."

The reason for a note being handed out was not provided to NHS Digital, the health authority's statistical arm, in 541,451 of Norfolk and Waveney cases between April 2016 and the end of 2018.

But when reasons were provided the most common cause of the note was mental or behavioural disorders, in 434,268 cases.

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There was a vast gap between this and the next most common category, of diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, which was used 30,471 times.

The least common illness which necessitated a sick note was diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and certain disorders involving the immune mechanism, where notes were written just 207 times.

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A fit note is issued after the first seven days of sickness absence, following a doctor's assessment of the patient's fitness for work.

The doctor can decide if the patient is unfit for work or may be fit for work subject to advice, with accompanying notes on suggested adjustments or adaptations to the job role or workplace.

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