GPs bombarded with millions of dubious requests

Up to nine million of the 22 million requests for GP sicknotes each year are
suspicious, according to new research from Norwich Union.

Norwich Union Healthcare’s latest Health of the Nation Index found
that doctors think almost a quarter of the 577 requests each doctor gets every
year are questionable at best, and nearly a fifth of them are invalid.

This follows a survey of 1,000 HR professionals and 300 doctors by Personnel
Today and sister magazine Doctor in 2003, which revealed that both doctors and
HR wanted a rethink on the system.

The study found more than 80 per cent of doctors no longer want
responsibility for writing sicknotes, while 77 per cent admitted to issuing
them too easily. As a result, HR professionals reported an increase in the
number of staff signed off sick.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said employers
and GPs must work together to help the system run more efficiently.

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said: "Our
research shows that tackling absence management is one of the biggest priorities
for employers. But to be effective, they must ensure they have progressive
people management policies, which are less likely to lead staff to wake up
thinking ‘I don’t feel like going in today’.

"This means ensuring they are treated fairly at work and have the
support, training and recognition to help them achieve their targets," he

Top causes for sicknote requests

Top reasons for getting sicknotes

1. Back pain

1. Embarrassment over a personal crisis they couldn’t tell their employer

2. Depression

2. Workplace is too stressful

3. Workplace stress

3. Their holiday request was refused or they didn’t want to use their
holiday entitlement

4. Other stress-related problems

4. Fatigue

5. Flu

5. A legitimate excuse to skive off work

Source: Norwich Union



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