Editorials

Access to welfare benefits in primary care

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3642 (Published 17 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3642
  1. Mark Gabbay, professor of general practice
  1. 1Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GL
  1. mbg{at}liv.ac.uk

    Is not substantially linked to GP patterns of certification behaviour

    In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c3838), Whittaker and colleagues assess variations in primary care patients who claim incapacity benefit, and whether consultation behaviour in primary care can be used to predict those people with mental health problems who are more at risk of becoming dependent on state benefits for long term health problems.1

    Internationally the pressure to reduce the proportion of people of working age who depend on state benefits and other benefits is increasing. Recent reviews in the United Kingdom have reported the scale of the problem and associated costs; they have proposed a variety of reforms, some of which, such as the introduction of the new Med 3 certificate (the “fit note”) in April 2010, have already had an effect on sickness certification processes for general practitioners.2 In the UK, the cost of mental ill health in terms of sickness absence, associated benefits, and lost productivity is substantial, and that of absenteeism and presenteeism (being in work when relatively unfit) exceeds the NHS annual budget.2 3 4 Recent guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) confirms the lack of robust research to guide practice and government initiatives.5 …

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