Employers sign up to find alternative to GP sicknotes

A total of 17 organisations have now joined the government-funded pilot scheme to look at alternatives to GPs signing people off sick, and more are still being recruited.

Dr Barbara Kneale, occupational health and safety adviser at Peugeot Citron in Coventry, who is leading the project, said data had been coming in for around a month, and there would be a first assessment of how things were progressing in this month.

Due to the level of interest in the pilot project, it has been extended to run to the end of 2006.

While it was still early days, there was some evidence that employees were being asked to go to see their GPs unnecessarily early after falling ill.

The pilot scheme was set up in the wake of a new contract for GPs, which agreed that they should have made progress towards giving up sickness certification – something many find onerous and irrelevant – by April next year.

It is looking at a number of alternative systems, including using in-house OH services, a telephone-based service, and remote OH services that can be called in for advice.

www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/med/healthcom/primary_care/research_/sam/

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