MacDoctor has an interesting post on sickness benefits. He observes:
It is my experience when I do GP locums, that sickness beneficiaries fall into the same categories. There are genuinely ill people, many of whom will eventually gravitate to invalid benefits. There are genuinely sore people who have long-term recovery problems from old injuries. But about a quarter of beneficiaries are undoubtably “swinging the lead”. They are the lower back pains that flounce into your office and flop into a chair without a single grimace. They are the asthmatics who apparently can go to gym or karate, but wheeze whenever they are near work. They are the depressives who laugh and joke with you as you fill in their form.
The 25% estimate would equate to around 10,000 people.
Now people might ask why doctors give out certificates. MacDoctor explains in full, but the summary is:
The real reason that all GPs blithely sign sickness benefit forms, even though we know they may not be genuine, is that we don’t know that they are not genuine, we only suspect. For most of the suspicious cases, you would need a number of investigations, or a specialist opinion to confirm your suspicion. Your patient will either refuse to go, or make appointments with the specialist and then simply not attend. And there is no way you can force them.
The only way this can stop is if you compel sickness beneficiaries to have an annual (or six monthly) medical with an independent doctor, preferably a specialist. This is not only good politics, it is actually good medicine, as specialist review of long-term illness is good clinical practice. Frankly, I don’t see this as being unpopular with sickness beneficiaries, apart from the ones milking the system. The majority of them would love to get better and go back to work, if they could.
National’s policy is that after 12 months on teh sickness benefit you see a designated independent doctor.Tags: benefits, MacDoctor, National