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BMA Conference Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Sicknote cutbacks urged
Paperwork
GPs say sicknotes mean too much paperwork
Doctors say that patients should be allowed to call in sick for a month before needing a sick-note from the surgery.

They want the system reformed because they say it is an unneccessary burden - and does not help either patients or employers.

Medics meeting at the British Medical Association's annual conference in Harrogate agreed a working group should be set up to review the system.

One proposal was for the period of self-certification, where patients do not need a sick-note from a doctor, to be extended from seven days to a month.

Dr Susan Robson, an occupational physician and director of health and safety services at the University of Manchester, told BBC News Online there were many problems with the current system.

She said: "I think, as a short-term measure, self certification should be extended to one month.


We know we can't rely on sick notes, which can be given on patient demand

Dr Susan Robson
"Then, we should look beyond that."

She said there should be more trust involved in the relationship between employer and employee, so for instances such as where people need time off after the death of a parent, there should be no need for a note from the doctor.

Trust

"We know we can't rely on sick notes, which can be given on patient demand.

"How much is that costing the country?"

Dr Robson said a trust-based system would be cheaper, and no harder to manipulate than the current system.

"If people want to try it on, there's no difficulty whatsoever."

Dr Kenneth Prudhoe, a member of the BMA¿s occupational health committee, added patients came in asking for assessment and discussion, but the reason for their visit was to get a sick note.

He added the benefits service required sick notes, and hospitals sometimes forgot to give them to patients being discharged, adding to the burden borne by GPs.

"We need to have a government-backed working party to address whether we are using our time inappropriately and putting us in an inappropriate situation with our patients."

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA Council, said: "This problem is causing a huge and unnecessary burden on doctors' time and is one of the reasons for low morale amongst GPs."

Full coverage of the BMA conference 2002

Day Three

Day Two

Day one

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02 Jul 02 | BMA Conference
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