A GPs’ conference has described needing to issue a fit note within the first four weeks of illness as ‘a huge drain on GP resources’ and called for an independent occupational health service to be set up to do this work instead.
The conference of local medical committees (LMCs) called for self-certification of illness to be extended from its current seven days to 28 days as a permanent change, the GPs’ publication Pulse reported.
A further motion to conference that was passed as a reference, meaning it did not become formal conference policy, argued that GPs were “not best placed” to assess fitness to work.
It called instead for an independent occupational health service to be set up to assess patients.
Proposing the motion, Dr Jasmeet Singh of Glasgow LMC, argued that GPs completing fit notes was a “clear conflict of interest that can endanger the doctor-patient relationship long-term”.
According to Dr Singh, the temporary extension of self-certification during the pandemic showed that patients and employers can be trusted to self-serve for up to four weeks.
“I commend the government on our negotiations and [ask it to] make this temporary change more permanent,” Pulse reported him as saying, adding that to reduce workload GPs should no longer issue fit notes at all.
Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care said GPs no longer have to put their signature on fit notes for patients, in a bid to reduce workload, according to Pulse. Instead, a new version of the form automatically includes the issuer’s name and profession.