By Lilian Anekwe
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has warned GPs to ‘be careful’ when issuing ‘fit notes’, as a wide-reaching revamp of the sick note system comes into effect.
The ‘fit note’ – a new version of the Med-3 form – were officially introduced today, in a move the BMA claims puts the onus on employers to help get ill patients back to work, by finding them tasks a GP has assessed them as being fit enough to perform.
Dr Buckman said: ‘The BMA is pleased that the sick note system has finally been overhauled. It should reduce the number of forms used and will provide a better way for a GP to give advice about a patient to their employer.’
But he warned: ‘GPs need to be careful they are not drawn into making comments they are not qualified to make, because, unlike occupational health doctors, they are not often in a position to know the details of the patient’s working conditions, neither do they have specialist knowledge of workplace hazards.’
‘Occupational health doctors have a central role in helping people back to work, but, unfortunately, only one worker in eight has access to an occupational health doctor.’
‘Employers have a responsibility to provide adequate occupational health services and the government must encourage them to provide that if the overall plan to help more people back to work is to be truly effective.’
Dr Laurence Buckman