23.06.2024

GPs plan to stop writing sick notes to free up time to see more patients 

GPs plan to stop signing sick notes, death certificates and disability forms in an effort to create more time to deal with their patients’ medical problems.

The British Medical Association (BMA) – the doctors’ union – wants GPs to ditch unpaid bureaucratic tasks that eat into time they could allocate to more appointments. Instead, it says much of the red tape should be done by nurses and even pharmacists.

The union is taking action due to concerns about the mounting workload pressures faced by frontline family doctors, and is adamant patients will not suffer but will instead have access to more appointments.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting head of the union’s GP committee, said: ‘GPs cannot take on infinite work. They need to prioritise sick patients who need them the most.’

The union has drawn up a potential hit list of jobs that GPs could refuse to do.

The British Medical Association wants GPs to stop doing routine unpaid administrative tasks

Instead of routine paper work, the BMA wants medics to concentrate on seeing more patients

In an email to local GP medical committees, passed to The Mail on Sunday, it lists possible measures such as refusing to sign sick notes for patients who need time off work due to ill health. The union says that this should instead be done by occupational health staff who are trained to assess a patient’s fitness.

Death certificates could be issued by nurses, the email adds, as ‘they often know the patient better than the doctor’.

Other blacklisted jobs could include completing forms for Personal Independence Payments – formerly called the Disability Living Allowance.

‘No GP wants to be ticking boxes when they could be seeing a patient who has cancer,’ said one source close to the union.

The measures, which could be implemented within the next few months, come weeks after the Government imposed a new contract on GPs, which the BMA is not happy with.

Under the new contract, GP practices will have to give patients an ‘assessment of need’ on first contact and will ‘no longer be able to request that patients contact the practice at a later time’, but were offered no extra funding.

Doctors say the contract is flawed and adds to GP workload pressure at a time when the service is already over-stretched.

Dr Sharrock said it was ‘incredibly demoralising’ for doctors to have a contract imposed on them that increased pressures with no additional support.

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