POLL: Should GPs be stripped of their powers to sign people off work?

New plans could mean you don’t need to see a doctor to get a sick note (officially referred to as fitness to work notes) after Rishi Sunak vowed to strip GPs of their power to sign people off work.

The government has announced new plans to change the current system as an attempt to crackdown on a ‘sick note culture’ in the UK as the latest figures suggest 2.8 million Britons are ‘economically inactive’ due to ill health.

Recent data from the NHS shows nearly 11 million fitness to work notes were issued last year, of which 94% declared the recipient “not fit to work”.

Mr Sunak argued that ‘part of the problem is that it may not be reasonable to ask GPs, who are very busy at the moment, to assess whether their own patients are fit for work.’

He also expressed concern that the current system puts GPs ‘in an impossible situation where they know that refusal to sign somebody off will harm that precious relationship with their patient.’

Instead, Mr Sunak proposed that this decision would become the responsibility of teams of ‘specialist work and health professionals’.

The new system would mean that people with common symptoms or illnesses like the flu could automatically be given time-off work after declaring their symptoms on an app.

However, this is likely to be limited to one-time illnesses to prevent people from misusing the system.

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A different system would be in place for patients with more complex or long-term conditions. In these instances, a ‘triage service’ would ‘support people seeking a fit note into a pathway that best suits their individual health and employment needs’, according to a call for evidence published by the government.

This system would be tested in a pilot scheme before being implemented across the UK, but many are already criticising the announced plans.

Do you think that this plan will work and benefit patients and GPs alike? Let us know if you think GPs should be stripped of their powers to sign people off work in our poll.


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