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GPs urged not to consider patient's job when assessing fitness for work


Of course GPs must continue to be involved in helping people to decide whether they are well enough to work, and in certifying this view where it will help both patient and employer. It is disappointing that your above anonymous correspondents are so intent on reducing their own workload that they want to offload to anyone, however unsuitable. Patients trust their GPs (though perhaps not your second anonymous correspondent above). We are not paid by either the Benefits Agency or by their employers, so our view on fitness for work can be taken from the patient's perspective. (We ARE paid for sickness certification through target net income, but we are not under any pressure from the DH (yet!) to achieve any particular level of certification of fitness.) If we don't know enough about occupational health to advise our patients, it is about time we learned about it. It is far more relevant to general practice than a great deal that the rarer causes of B12 deficiency or peripheral neuropathy. In contrast to your cynical second anonymous correspondent, my experience in over 25 practices In Leeds and district is that many patients need to be persuaded to take time off, especially those with depression, or in whom their sickness is a threat to others' health, or indeed to their own health. Many feel intimidated by employers to stay at work when it is neither in their or their employers' interest that they do so. As regards the question of whether the certificate should reflect fitness for current job or any job, this surely must depend upon the period of time of, the nature of the illness (whether recovery is to be expected, and whether the patient actually has a job to return to. If your above correspondents had myocardial infarcts or bowel resections, they would expect to take time off work (I hope) and have it certified by their GP, even though they might still have the capability to write a prescription or a sick note!

Posted date

06 Apr 2013

Posted time