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Independents' Day

Get the sick back to work, GPs urged

GPs should work with employers to encourage patients with long-term sickness to return to part-time work,

instead of signing more

sicknotes, the medical adviser to a leading employers organisation has argued.

Dr Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser to the Engineering Employers Federation, said GPs should talk to patients about whether there was any work they could do rather than prolong their absence.

'What I want GPs to do is spend that extra minute or two in the consultation thinking, is there anything this person can do?' he said. 'A lot of employees would go back to work if their GP said they could.'

The move would mean a longer consultation initially, but could free up future appointments, he claimed.

Dr Khan, who was a GP for 12 years, also called on employers to write to GPs to ask about rehabilitation options for staff, as long as they did not name the employee.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said GPs did much of what Dr Khan was suggesting. 'I think GPs are playing to society's rules. You can't blame GPs for signing sicknotes when a patient presents in front of them.'

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