RCGP calls on hospital staff to issue fit notes

The RCGP has urged hospitals to stop sending patients to their practices to obtain sick notes.

GPs are 'swamped' with work (Phtotgraph: SPL)
GPs are 'swamped' with work (Phtotgraph: SPL)

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said GPs were often 'swamped' with unnecessary work because junior doctors were unsure about procedures.

He called for unified guid-ance to be implemented across all hospitals, to coincide with the launch of the new Med 3 form on 6 April.

The new form, known as the 'fit note', will allow GPs to advise a patient that they 'may be fit for work'. GPs can then suggest ways to help patients return to work sooner, for example by adapting the workplace.

Professor Field said: 'Patients should be given a fit note as they leave, and it should not matter whether it's signed by a doctor or a nurse in hospital because they should be working to uniform national guidance.

'What happens is that the patient is told to see their GP, which is a complete waste of time and is usually because the junior doctor cannot make their mind up.

'This is something that would be best done by the nurse on the ward who is discharging them.We need to minimise the work and the bureaucracy and the inconvenience for patients.'

The Department for Work and Pensions is now looking at developing simple guidance for hospital doctors. Dame Professor Carol Black, national director for work and health, said advice leaflets were also being developed to give to patients when they were being discharged.

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