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Ill health costing £100bn

17th March 2008

The National Director for Health and Work has said sickness is responsible for "costing the economy £100 billion a year."

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Dame Carol Black said the system currently in place to support employees who do not attend work because of sickness should be overhauled. About 175 million work days are lost through illness each year.

Dame Black's report stated the need for a system which included fit notes for GPs to indicate when workers could resume their jobs and NHS-organised "schemes" to get people healthy enough to attend work again.

Her report also advised that employers should give their staff encouragement to stay healthy, including paying for gym membership and promoting healthy living. She suggested that companies should allow flexible employment, to help employees return to work more easily.

Around 350,000 people claim incapacity benefit every year once they transfer from the sick note system. The number of people claiming benefit in Britain - currently 2.7 million - has more than tripled since the 1970s.

Dame Carol said: "For most people their work is a key factor in their self-worth, family esteem and identity. But it is so easy to fall out of work and move to a place where your confidence and well-being suffers. We must do more to help people."

 

 

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