NHS Digital must be quoted as the source of these figures
*Regional data are available within this report
31 August 2017: Mental health and behavioural conditions have accounted for 31% of all fit notes2, where the diagnosis was known3, written in England between December 2014 and March 2017.
This was the most common known reason for issuing a fit note, new experimental figures from NHS Digital have revealed.
Anonymised4 information covering GP practices has been collected for the first time. These practices are responsible for around two-thirds of working age patients5 registered with a GP in England.
Information from more than 12 million fit notes6 over a 28 month period have been analysed, of which around 5.8 million had a known diagnosis.
From the information analysed, almost 1.8 million7 fit notes were issued where the diagnosis was known to be mental health and behavioural conditions, according to the Fit Notes Issued by GP Practices, which is based on analysis of fit notes written in England.
Of episodes for mental health and behavioural conditions, around one in five were issued for a period of absence of more than 12 weeks.
There were around 1.1 million8 fit notes known to relate to diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, which was the second most common known reason for which a fit note was issued.
The statistics, which were produced in conjunction with The Work and Health Unit9, are broken down to CCG level and show the number of fit notes issued per 100,000 working age registered patients10 in each CCG.
Other findings in the report include:
- the number of fit notes known to have been written for anxiety and stress related conditions from included practices, increased by around 14 percent from 503,000 to 573,000 between 2015-16 and 2016-17
- January 2017 saw the highest number of fit notes written from the included practices, with 556,000 issued during that month
Of those CCGs where at least two GP practices returned information:
- NHS Knowsley CCG11 recorded the highest number of fit notes written per 100,000 working age registered patients in March 2017, with 4,123 fit notes issued per 100,000 people
- NHS Richmond CCG recorded the fewest number of fit notes written per 100,000 working age registered patients in March 2017, with 977 fit notes issued per 100,000 people
- at national level the number of fit notes written in March 2017 was 2,334 per 100,000 working age registered patients12
- women continually accounted for more than half of the total number of fit notes issued in the reporting period, from a low of 53.8 per cent in August 2015 to a high of 57.8 per cent in January 2017