End in sight for the ongoing GP sicknote crisis?

Government
research into shifting the responsibility of issuing sicknotes to other
healthcare professionals in the UK is nearing completion.

Jane
Kennedy, minister of state for work at the Department for Work and Pensions
(DWP) admitted last week there was a culture in the UK for GPs to sign people
off sick far too easily.

She
said that the Government was actively looking at handing sicknote
responsibility to health professionals such as occupational health
professionals and community nurses.

Kennedy
also conceded that there would be a big training agenda involving line
managers, employers and unions if that approach was to be adopted.

A
DWP spokesperson told Personnel Today that an initial report was due over the
summer and until then, no decisions on the "next steps" would be
taken.

Kennedy’s
comments follow a survey of 1,000 HR professionals and 300 doctors by Personnel
Today and its sister publication Doctor last year. It revealed that both
doctors and HR wanted a rethink on the system.

The
research found that more than 80 per cent of doctors no longer wanted
responsibility for writing sicknotes, while 77 per cent admitted that they
issue sicknotes too easily.

Eighty
per cent of HR professionals surveyed told us they were seeing more staff
signed off sick, with 30 per cent saying the numbers had increased in the past
year.

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