GPs failing to help staff with mental health issues back to work

Employers believe doctors are not doing enough to help people with mental health problems return to work.

The latest quarterly Labour market outlook report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD/KPMG found GPs are typically rated negatively by employers for the level of support they provide in helping people with mental health problems return to work. Almost 40% of employers rate GP support in this area as being either very poor or fairly poor while just 20% rate GP support as good or very good.

The survey also reveals that currently employers receive medical reports from GPs for just 50% of employees off work with long-term mental health problems, despite the fact that seven-in-10 employers say they contact GPs to ask them to provide such a report.

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “GPs are letting down patients signed off work with mental health problems by not communicating effectively with employers. All the evidence shows that a phased return to work can play a hugely beneficial role in the recovery of people suffering with this kind of illness. Employers are willing to do their bit, but they need support and better communication from GPs to facilitate appropriately phased returns to work.

“All too often the reality today is a quickly scribbled note signing someone off for another period of weeks. This can contribute to long-term sickness absence, and often to extended periods on incapacity benefits.