A ‘skivers charter’
Medics’ Sick Note Plan will mean workers can sign themselves off for two weeks
GPs say doubling the time workers can sign themselves off as sick will free up appointments for people in urgent need of care.
Doctors have said that workers should be able to sign themselves off sick for up to two weeks.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said people should be trusted not to fake illness so that GPs can use appointments for people who need treatment.
Nurses, midwives and other therapists should be able to write notes for patients who do need them, doctors will say at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Belfast on 23rd June.
Critics dismissed the plan as a “skivers’ charter”.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee, said: “It's about empowering patients and trusting patients and reducing unnecessary appointments with GPs.
“If you've got a patient who very clearly has an illness that is going to last 10 days to two weeks, why do they need to make an appointment with a GP just to get that note to tell their employer what their employer probably knows already and what the patient should be trusted to be able to pass on?
“This is just a motion that is trying to do something to reduce the unnecessary appointments that GPs have and thereby increase the number of appointments that are available for people who genuinely do need to see a GP.”
However, Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “When someone is sick enough to be off work for a week, they should try to see a doctor.
“The electronic fit note is a simple process to enable employers to understand how sick their employee is and what they can do when they return to work."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said of the current one-week system: “We believe it supports individuals and employers without overburdening GPs. We have no plans to change the existing policy.”