Be strict about sick notes and minor ailments
What we did
I work in an inner-city Birmingham practice with a lot of young, deprived patients. The three GPs were getting three or four tasks a day and two or three appointments per doctor per day for sick notes within the first seven days of illness, when patients are able to self-certify.
From the first week of September, we asked receptionists to enforce the sick note policy (that we would not give out sick notes for illness lasting less than seven days). They displayed a laminated copy of the policy in reception and provided copies of self-certification forms for patients to take away.
We’ve also started being stricter with self-care, having been inundated with requests for treatments for flu, blocked nose, cough and fever. We downloaded copies of ‘pharmacy first’ posters from the CCG, along with a list of participating pharmacies in our area. So now the receptionists can also tell patients where to go, if needed.
We have noticed a dramatic improvement and in the past eight weeks none of the GPs has given out a sick note for acute illness shorter than seven days. Before, we were giving out one or two a day. These measures have saved at least 30 to 40 minutes of GP time per day. None of this has cost any money – it was all about reinforcement.
From Dr Kanchana Imrapur, Birmingham