Pulse’s surreal new blog Through the K hole tackles the changes to the sick note system – with the help of Professor Candid, real Polish man Pavel and a self-certified dosser from Cardiff
There are an estimated 172 million lost working days each year attributable to sickness absence. Professor Candid looks back at the tremendous societal changes which have led to this situation, and how the new ‘fit note’ makes sense in the context of modern Britain.
‘The Med-3 has been in use since 1948 but thinking back to when I was a young boy hardly anyone ever went off sick, it was a question of family honour and self-respect. My father, who was a general surgeon, passed on a great work ethic to me and my brothers, and by the time I was 12 I could remove an appendix and tie off a popliteal aneurysm before morning-prayer.’
‘Nowadays of course practically everyone wants to be off sick and I fully support the introduction of the new ‘fit note’. It’s about time that GPs started mopping up the social mess created by a succession of vacuous and vote-hungry parties who have created a body of health and safety legislation that doesn’t know its arse from its elbow.’
He went onto explain that the University of Axminster has proven in a non-blind RCT that work is healthy and tends to make people happy, but that too much work is unhealthy and tends to make people sad.
He said: ‘I once took a week off in between surgical rotations and almost went bonkers, I had to listen to my wife for the first time in years and boy does she talk a lot of shit! She got me doing things like putting up shelving to solve our storage problems and re-pointing the roof. I’ll be honest I went f***ing nuts and it put such a strain on our relationship that she’s never let me have any time off since. Under Stalin it was a criminal offence to be unemployed and I suggest a return to the ethos of the great Stakhanov, the hero of Socialist labour, who could mine 100 tonnes of coal in 5 hours without even so much as a blister.’
A self-certified dosser from Cardiff said: ‘I recently read the Black report, which underscores the need to support GPs providing fitness for work advice to patients and employers. And my succinct response to this is f**k you all! There’s so much Jeremy Kyle on the telly and so much beer to consume that I can’t possibly work. I mean both me and my wife are in full time employment, if by employment you mean eating cheese-filled snacks, smoking Bensons and drinking litres of impossibly orange pop.’
He added: ‘A GP once asked me if I would be fit for any sort of work, even light duties, but look at me, I mean honestly! With my slim frame, vitamin B deficiency and 40-a-day habit I couldn’t possibly be asked to lift some boxes, even if they were empty! So I told him to f**k the f**k off and threatened to contact the GMC. He went as white as a sheet. We really had got those f****rs over a barrel until recently and these changes genuinely worry me.’
Pavel, a real Polish man, exclaimed: ‘There’s so much work to be done in the UK that I’ve started shovelling it in a suitcase and sending it back home. I mean, I don’t know what these Brits are whingeing about. They just have to get off their backsides and do something useful like becoming Catholic or something.’
A Government spokesman also discussed the issues surrounding fitness to work.
‘Having back pain will no longer be a career option,’ he said. ‘We’re going to start closing down college and university departments which have been offering courses on how to blag a sickie with immediate effect.’
There was however understandable outrage from the student body. Colin, a student at Axminster polytechnic. said: ‘I’m gutted by this latest decision. I’ve just perfected an L5-S1 antero-lateral prolapse with straight leg raise positive signs and convincing saddle anaesthesia and next week I was going to do the neurotic depression module. What am I going to do now?’
Some of the colleges also offered ‘Advanced Malingering’ and ‘Life After Whiplash’ but under a new Government ruling these heavily-subsidised schemes will also now be scrapped.
An unemployed and frankly dangerous electrician from Northhampton said: ‘I’ve considered my options and to be honest I would rather hang myself with a pair of tights than mop the floor at Mecca Bingo. I mean my ideal job is Brad Pitt but I don’t think he’s going to leave the post any time soon and the only other thing that I’m really good at apart from whimsical dreaming is downloading apps for my iPhone.’
Even the Romanians are upping sticks and leaving. Gheorghe explained: ‘I was told by my mafia gang master that the streets are paved with gold. If by gold he meant empty fag packets and vomit he was absolutely right, I’m going to take my forthright and respectable begging business elsewhere.’
Professor Candid ended the interview by saying: ‘The Government can’t wait for GPs to start doing their dirty work for them. Years of poorly-thought through social policy have led to this situation and primary care is ideally placed to sort it all out. Someone has to be the fall guy and to be honest GPs aren’t exactly winning the popularity contest at the moment.’
‘Fit to work or not, you decide’.
Through the K hole – credit HaPe Gera, Flickr Through the K hole – credit HaPe Gera, Flickr