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The waiting game

GPs may not need to sign coronavirus sick notes, Government suggests

The Government has asked employers to 'use their discretion' when considering medical evidence for people self-isolating due to coronavirus (Covid-19) exposure.

In an action plan set out today, the Government said it is preparing for a worst-case scenario where a fifth of the UK's workforce will be off work at the peak of the outbreak.

However, the document suggested GPs may not be required to sign fit notes for people who have to take time off work.

It said: 'Your employee will be advised to isolate themselves and not to work in contact with other people by NHS 111 or PHE if they are a carrier of, or have been in contact with, an infectious or contagious disease, such as COVID-19.

'We strongly suggest that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to self-isolate due to suspected Covid-19, in accordance with the public health advice being issued by the Government.'

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: 'Employers have been urged to make sure they use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

'Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay is able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

'We are keeping the situation under constant review and we will take appropriate measures in line with further developments.'

Under the Government's plans, retired GPs may be called back to the workforce, non-urgent care may be delayed and health professionals will have powers to detain people in quarantine areas if they suspected them of having the virus.

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Readers' comments (7)


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  • Hancock has no plan. There are not even wash areas or toilets in every station/terminal. Let's be frank the current habits and respect for others in this country is close to zero, and many will perversely be happy to spread what they have just to get milk or a pint to watch the football. But let's keep the drug and alcohol industry thriving, while we ignore what it actually means to be healthy.

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  • if you worked in general practice you would know how deluded a suggestion that really really is. hopeless.

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  • Deluded in the extreme, use discretion my a***

    The requesting hordes will descend bringing the relevant germs to the Surgery.

    Clearly moved from the containment phase!

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  • Last Man Standing | GP Partner/Principal03 Mar 2020 12:54pm

    Completely agree.
    If they were serious, a complete ban on the need for ALL sicknotes (no "discretion" needed), starting immediately, for a period of, let's say, the next 3months, would be easily understood by everyone, and no requirement to "identify" Coronavirus.
    That's doable.

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  • Out of touch and deluded. Tey telling the patients.
    If we get a complaint, NHSE, GMC, lawyers, CQC, CCG.....will be on us like a ton of time wasting bricks.

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  • no advice to reduce/stop travelling for holidays etc. just take 2 weeks off when you fancy - two weeks off every few weeks shouldn't be a problem!

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