Saturday, 19 November 2011

GPs and sicknotes

The government has a plan to cut the amount of time people take off work sick.  They want to stop GP's writing sicknotes and hand the job over to an "independent assessment service", presumably a private company who get paid for the number of people they refuse a sicknote to. 

The plan is based on two ideas, neither of which is true: that lots of people go off sick from work long-term (as opposed to a "sickie") when there's nothing wrong with them and that GP's give sicknotes to people who they know are not sick.

I've got a couple of ideas to reduce the amount of time people take off work sick: make workplaces healthier and cut NHS waiting times. 

Five years ago, I was off work for over a year as a result of an industrial injury to my knee.  After seeing my GP, it took six months to go for a scan and another six months for an operation.  At the end of two months physio I returned to work. As a doctor said to me, if I'd been Wayne Rooney I would have had the scan and op on day one and after physio been back at work after a couple of months.

Of course, the government won't do either of the things that would reduce work-related sickness as the first would require strong trade unions in every workplace and the second taxing the wealthy to pay for decent public services.

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