Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s call for an end to UK’s ‘sick note culture’ by removing GPs responsibility to assess people’s fitness to work is harmful, inaccurate and extremely disappointing.

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, said:

“We’re shocked and extremely disappointed with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s continuing attack on people who are unable to work due to mental health issues.

"The truth is that as the NHS struggles and waiting lists grow, people are left without the vital support they need. Mental health services are crumbling as a result of year-on-year failures to ensure essential levels of investment. People with mental health conditions need access to timely, accessible, ethical, high-quality support from trained professionals.”

Lack of understanding

In the announcement Sunak raised concerns about the increase in long-term sickness since the pandemic, largely driven by mental health conditions with 2.8 million people now “economically inactive”. He also argued that that there is a need to be “more honest about the risk of over-medicalising the everyday challenges and worries of life”.

This follows similar comments from the work and pensions secretary, Mel Stride, who claimed that doctors “label or medicalise” conditions which in the past were seen as normal parts of life’s ups and downs.

Kris said: “For the Prime Minister to say there is a risk of “over-medicalising” normal worries by diagnosing them as mental health conditions demonstrates a total lack of understanding of mental health and its complexities.

"There is clearly a failure to recognise or appreciate the scale of the mental health emergency in the UK and the need for urgent investment in services.

"The Government must focus on solving the mental health crisis facing the nation by properly investing in mental health services. Our members consist of highly qualified and experienced counsellors and psychotherapists who are ready to provide thousands of hours of therapeutic support to those in need.

"The Government must also support the economy, doing much more to incentivise good work and invest in initiatives that provide a wide range of financial inducements to help employers invest in their employees, through mental health support at work.

"Simply removing the safety net for the most vulnerable will not help achieve their aim.”