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GPC defends GPs in no-win situation over sicknotes

The GPC has said the profession is in a no-win dilemma over sicknotes after a national newspaper claimed doctors were prepared to issue post-dated certificates to healthy

patients.

A report in the The Sunday Times alleged 14 out of 38 GPs gave 'positive help' to an undercover reporter to get time off sick.

Three GPs issued a sicknote and three others gave guarantees to 'sign off' the patient before Christmas.

Dr Bright Selvarajan, an NHS GP in Fulham, admitted to Pulse that he accepted £1,000 for a private consultation in which he post-dated a sicknote for the reporter.

The GPC said it could not condone GPs issuing certificates for non-medical reasons, but said GPs were put in a 'no win' situation when patients demanded sicknotes.

'If the allegations are true it's for the GMC to deal with,' said GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden. 'But this is a long-standing issue ­ what do you do when patients ask for time off for stress? You can't win. Stress is hard to prove or disprove and GPs are petrified of being sued.'

The new GMS contract will remove the burden of certification from GPs and pilot schemes are being extended to pass on the role to employers.

Dr Selvarajan said he thought the £1,000 in cash was a generous payment of the private consultation fee. 'She may have felt it was Christmas and she wanted to give some money because I had given her a post-dated certificate after the initial certificate,' he said.

The Sunday Times has forwarded its findings to the GMC. Hammersmith and Fulham PCT said it was also investigating the allegations.

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