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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Electronic sick notes on trial

By Christian Duffin

Sick notes are being issued by GPs electronically in a trial that means employers do not have to decipher their notoriously bad handwriting

The Department of Work and Pensions is overseeing the scheme in parts of Wales.

Some GPs have claimed that hackers will be able to forge medical statements if they are issued through computers rather than signed by hand. But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator, said he believed the system would prove successful.

‘I do not see any problem with electronic sick notes. They provide an opportunity for quicker processing and we could extract relevant diagnoses from records to put on the sick note as well. It also stands to reason that the forms would be more legible,' he said.

GPs face big workloads writing sick notes, he added. Hospitals often give patients sick notes covering only short periods of time on discharge, which means they have to visit GPs soon after for an extension, said Dr Nagpaul.

The BMA has previously called for the sick note system to be scrapped completely, with employers accepting sickness claims of their workers on trust.

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