Certification should focus more on fitness to work

A senior OH adviser has backed proposed changes to the Med 3 certificate (sicknote).

In the first presentation in an interactive session, ‘The changing demands of occupational health’, Teresa Harrison, senior OH adviser at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue, explained why the proposed changes are a good idea.

Med 3 is just a guide, she reminded delegates, to provide evidence of why someone is off sick. Harrison said she believed the current system is out of date, with the focus on sickness, not fitness for work.

Megan Clark echoed many of Harrison’s points in her presentation about the Pathways to Work pilot, where she is development manager for the Condition Management Programme.

This project is the result of a joint working initiative between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health. Run by Jobcentre Plus and the NHS, it aims to provide support for people who are in receipt of a state incapacity benefit, to help them manage their condition and get back to work.

Clark pointed out that work is not high on the health profession’s agenda within the NHS, despite evidence that not working is bad for your health.

OH consultant Cynthia Atwell outlined the scope of the pilot study currently being carried out to evaluate the alternatives to sickness certification by GPs, and told delegates that they are the people who can change how sickness certification is carried out.

Christina Butterworth, OH, safety and welfare manager for Hertfordshire Constabulary, concluded the session by summarising the role of the RCN Career and Competency framework, which was devised to provide a guide to OH nurses and their employers about the competencies for OH nursing practice.

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