SICK Brits could be sent to see a life coach rather than being signed off sick, under new government plans.
Long-term sickness has left a record 2.5 million Brits off work, with more than 400,000 quitting since the start of the Covid pandemic.
GPs will be urged to send patients to life coaches instead of signing them off sick
But with ministers desperate to get workers clocking in again, the government is developing a “universal support” scheme, which could see 50,000 people who are currently not working due mental health, debt or other problems referred to life coaches, according to The Times.
Fit notes are handed out by healthcare professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacists and nurses to provide evidence of a person’s fitness to work.
They’re currently issued to patients who’ve been off work due to illness for over a week, who are either declared ‘unfit for work’ or fit to get going again, provided their employer adapts their hours or duties.
Drawn up by Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, the new plans would allow GPs to refer patients to support schemes or programmes, while classifying them as potentially able to work with the right help.
A government source told The Times: “The general view is that parity of esteem between mental and physical health, as well as what’s happened with Covid, has meant that more people are being signed off sick.
“‘It’s led to a huge increase in the size of the welfare state.”
They added: “Nobody is talking about cutting benefits, that would be politically disastrous, but we are looking closely at how we can incentivise people to go back to work.”
The scheme is currently under under consideration by officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and has already been trialled in 12 UK areas.
Figures published by the Office of National Statistics in May blamed in the spike in Brits off work on spinal woes brought on from working from home, long Covid and a rise in mental health struggles.