Get tough on sick notes, Government urged

From the ‘Daily Telegraph’, 17 September 2007

by Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent 

The Government is being urged to launch a fresh crackdown on "sick-note Britain’ by ordering extra checks before doctors sign patients off work. 


Professor Dame Carol Black, the Government’s national director of health and work, wants requests for sick notes, which currently go to GPs, instead to be scrutinised by teams of experts who would attempt to speed an employee’s return to work.

In a review due to be submitted to ministers in January, Dame Carol will propose the creation of "back to work" teams, based at GP practices, to which patients seeking sick notes would be referred.

The teams, staffed by physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists and employment advisers, would offer services that attempt to get patients back to work as soon as possible, instead of providing them with a sick note on demand.

Dame Carol said: "Too often doctors reach for a sick note when what is needed is some quick therapy, to agree adjustment to their working life, and to get them back to work."

The teams, staffed by physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists and employment advisers, would offer services that attempt to get patients back to work as soon as possible, instead of providing them with a sick note on demand.

Dame Carol said: "Too often doctors reach for a sick note when what is needed is some quick therapy, to agree adjustment to their working life, and to get them back to work."