Friday, 24 June 2016

Plastering Over The Facts

General Practitioners (Doctors), want to add to the sick note culture of the British (noticeably not the East Europeans or Asians who are replacing them in the workplace), by allowing 'self-certification for up to 14 days'. Now for those of you who are not familiar with the practices of UK employment, self certification is a practice, whereby anyone who tells their employer that they are 'too sick to work', does not have to go to their doctors for up to 7 calendar days to prove that they are actually ill.

How Doctors See Themselves ....

This can't directly be challenged by employers, although the number of such absences in a year can be. This replaced a system where by you went to the doctor for a sick note after a day or so of absence. Some employers fight back, by making employees ring an occupational nurse directly to explain that they are ill .... unremarkably this produces a reduction in sick leave.

Of course this has led (a particularly in Public Sector employment i.e. NHS, Local Authorities and Civil Servants), to some abuse, with some employees supplementing their holiday entitlements, by taking a couple of weeks (or more) 'sickness' a year.

Now the figures can be a little confusing on this matter .... so these are figures that give a general idea: In the UK in 2015, UK workers over all sectors took an average of 1.85 days off for illness in the year .... this compares favourably to over 5 days of sick per annum before the 2008 crash. Its the younger workers who take the most time off, with those aged 16 to 34 taking an average of 2.68 days off.

Guess what, it was social workers and human resources workers, who were absent for the greatest number of days, with an average of 4.65 and 3.21 per annum respectively. Taxi and lorry drivers and shop assistants were the nation’s most stoic workers with an average of less than 1.5 days off. Generally the latest data reveals an average of 7.9 days lost each year among public sector workers compared with 5.5 days in similar occupations in the private sector. .... this can possible be explained by several factors

  • More women are in lower pay scales and who have primary childcare / care for elderly issues, and use their annual leave up on these activities rather than holidays.
  • Some occupational health issues e.g. Fireman and Police, face serious physical injuries and stress.
  • Medical workers often face cross infection issues etc.

.... and not just the easier access to fully paid sickness benefits, for longer periods, than many private sector workers.

Rehabilitating Sick Workers Has Long Been A Concern ....

Even in terms of percentage of working time public-sector organisations experience a median of 3.5% of working time lost due to sickness absence – equivalent to 8.1 days per employee – while private-sector services organisations lost a median of 2.2% of working time, translating as 5.1 days per employee.
.... but despite all these factors the British Medical Association (BMA) want self-certification extended.

A Dr John Canning, who is a GP from Middlesbrough and chairman of the BMA's professional fees committee, said that certification for employees who are off more than a week, takes "... half a dozen appointments ..... That's six people who don't get seen." ... then came the bit that made me laugh .... "We're busy enough doing the day job, curing the sick."

Presumably he considers that those vast numbers of people who are off sick from work, but who haven't troubled a doctor, are not to be classed as being "sick", or aren't worth being cured?  It wont be long before we see the day when UK's doctors don't think they should actually see a patent, ever .... well not unless they are "sick" sick ... if you get what I mean.


  1. Very good piece. Self certification is like self regulation, inherently flawed and screaming abuse. Playing Devil's advocate for a second, there's a third option to Dr Canning's statement; people are forced to visit their GPs by their employers just to confirm what they already know.

    1. Hello Vroomfondel old chap: I had wondered if you had found better places to comment or my posts were becoming too boring (A bit like Boswell not enjoying reading Dr Johnson ... LOL). Hope you had a good holiday (or are feeling better .... strikethrough as applicable)..

      Well after 7 days off work how many are people aren't really sick - how long does man flu last. 2 or 3 days? So after 7 days off perhaps you really should be seeking medical help.

  2. Great holiday thanks, west country.

    Good point, hadn't thought about that, best to seek another opinion after 3 or 4 days!

    1. I used to holiday in the West Country - Devon mostly. can be glorious when the weather God is with you. Anyway glad you had a good time.

    2. Rob McKenna was in the area but apparently on the night shift. Bude was wonderful.

    3. Glad the rain god smiled on you.


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