Currently in the UK the long term sick are supplied with the necessary sick certificates, via their GP, or general practitioner, that is their doctor. The certificates will enable the long term sick to apply for Incapacity Benefits if they eligible.
Like so many other procedures and benefits it is a flawed system. However rather than come up with worthy improvements the current UK Coalition Government is planning a radical overhaul. A, no doubt expensive, review has been underway. Whilst this may address some of the problems it will open a whole new set of difficulties.
Invalidity benefit was changed into Incapacity Benefit some time ago in an attempt to address some of the problems. Although it did in part, those who abused the system continued to prosper. Other valid claimants fell by the wayside and lost out.
In 2010 David Cameron pledged that he would reform the benefit system in order to save money and tackle the UK deficit.
The recommended new changes include:
Whilst on the surface some of this may sound a sensible approach, it may not to a person who is suffering from a debilitating illness, for example. How easy will it be too fairly assess a person with a mental illness? Thoughts raised are:
The changes are not designed for people who most of us would class as the long term sick. They will affect any person who is sick for a period of more than four weeks and needs to claim any type of sickness benefit.
The deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said: 'If what is being described is a proper occupational health assessment at an earlier stage in the patient's illness then that would be helpful. But if it turns out to be a punitive process just to try and save money without the best interests of the patient at the heart of the process then it will fail.'
Looks like it is set to fail then.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog