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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Transforming sickness support will boost productivity and the economy

Commentary from Dr Jed Boardman

Transforming sickness support will boost productivity and the economy: Commentary from Dr Jed Boardman

An independent review aimed at reducing the cost of sickness to employers, taxpayers and the economy was presented to the Government by health and business experts Dame Carol Black and David Frost.


Dr Jed Boardman: “Absence from work owing to sickness has a high human and financial cost. The longer a person is on sickness benefits, the less likely they are to return to work. A high proportion of these people have mental health problems."


"The focus of this review is to examine measures to keep people in work (with an existing or alternative employer) and to reduce the number moving on to benefits. It examines several areas in which these matters can be addressed:


  • the assessment of people during sickness absence,
  • access to back to work support
  • improvement of practices by employers in the private and public sectors to reduce absence,
  • changes in the benefits system.


There are 13 recommendations, including the creation of an Independent Assessment Service to assess employees’ health and to advise on supporting a return to work after they have been signed off work for four weeks or more. People would be referred to the service by their GP or employer. The Government will review the findings and recommendations should publish a response during 2012.”



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