MORE sick notes were given to Worcestershire patients by their GPs in 2022 than the national average, new figures show.

Almost 148,371 sick notes were given to patients across the former NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG area, which averages 12,364 a month.

A sick note - or fit note - is a note provided by a GP which tells employers if a patient is too ill to work or gives other recommendations, such as reducing their working hours.

READ MORE: Car engulfed in flames on the M5 motorway near Worcester

John Appleby, director of research at the Nuffield Trust – a health charity – said: “Aside from the impact on the labour market, tackling recent rises in long-term sickness will represent a challenge to health services as they grapple with the demands of post-pandemic recovery.”

The figures by NHS England are for the number of individual fit notes given out and could be higher as some patients opted out of sharing their data.

In total, 31,320 sick notes were given out for every 100,000 patients aged 18 to 65 in the area – a higher rate than England as a whole, which had 27,789 per 100,000 patients.

A large majority of sick notes issued across the UK were for mental and behavioural disorders in 2022, including 22,904 in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

In England, the number of fit notes issued for a period of five weeks or more rose from 4.2m in 2021 to 4.5m last year.

READ MORE: Innocent driver finds out new car is stolen while at the shops

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported earlier this year that the Government is looking into ways of reforming the fit note system to limit the impact of long-term sickness on the economy.

Women were also found to be disproportionately likely to be the recipients of fit notes – receiving 57.9% of all fit notes last year.

Mr Appleby continued: “There were some notable differences between men and women in the reasons they gave for not being in work between late 2020 and late 2022, with long-term sickness rising more for women than for men.

"While reductions in labour market participation are almost certainly in part associated with the impact and aftermath of the pandemic, for women the rise in long-term sickness as a reason for inactivity pre-dated Covid, starting at the beginning of 2019," he added.