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sick notes should not be the responsibility of GPs after 1-2 months

Comment 13th July 2010

Alot of people who are off sick could be back at work, and they would recover more quickly. Typical problems include back pain and depression. People off sick typically lose confidence and become more depressed and their physical health also suffers. I believe that GPs should be concentrating on the physical and mental health of their patients and patients should be encouraged to return to work with the aid of counselling, therapy and a dedicated occupational health scheme. Too much time is spent by doctors already investigating health complaints in people determined to stay off work or who have never worked and have made a lifetime career of being sick and claiming benefits. A robust and independent assessment is vital for the good physical and mental health of the patients,  but I fear that this is a very deep seated problem affecting a small minority of patients and it may also reflect a lack of aspiration sometimes affecting many generations of one family and it may also reflect social inequalities and a desperation  to access resources.

Why does this matter?

A robust occupacional health service could save money  and improve health and free up appointments and resources in the health service. I suggest that GPs should not give a sick note for more than 2 months before referring to an occupational health scheme. Those patients in good physical health should be given appropriate training and benefits should be linked to attendance at training  and should not be based simply on evidence of sickness

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