Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Throwing A Sickie

Sick people are a disgrace. They took off 78 million working days last year, and that's on top of those 2.7 million indolent rascals on Incapacity Benefit.

But the real villains of the piece are GPs. Everybody knows they chuck around sick notes like confetti. No wonder the government is determined to make them do better, and we now have a report on the Department of Work and Pensions innovative programme to make them jolly well pull their socks up:

"The Government’s Green Paper ‘Pathways to Work’...outlined plans to provide better support and incentives to return to work for people with health problems or disabilities. It identified the vital role that GPs play in providing advice to patients on fitness for work and providing medical certificates. Further, it pledged to provide a website for GPs on sickness certification and fitness for work issues, to improve the quality of advice provided by GPs."

The Department's solution was to set up an "online learning module...namely ‘Sickness Certification Made Easy". Obviously most of the module comprises detailed instructions on how to fill in Form Dwp2003-04/23-4-572/C/bii-prov (particularly the potentially tricky Section Z47), but there are also helpful sub-modules pointing out to GPs the health benefits of work. What could be more useful to those hard-pressed, but let's face it, slightly dim GPs? We hope our good friend Dr Crippen has taken its lessons to heart.

So how's it going? Well, incredibly, it seems many GPs have not even bothered to look at the new site. And those who have only seem to have spent a hour or so, max, before getting back to the golf course. Quite disgracefully, "most GPs see medical certification as a low profile issue". In fact the researchers only seem to have found 20 doctors who would actually admit to using it at all! And they're not all GPs!


Just what is it that makes our politicos and bureaucrats think they're equipped to instruct our health professionals not only on their responsibilities, but also how they should discharge them? I mean, these are the guys who can't even run the government, let alone serious stuff like health.

And here we have yet another initiative that nobody seems to want except our rulers, and nobody seems to care about. Yet instead of saying that, this Report has 80 pages of suggestions for expanding the whole thing and producing a further even bigger report in due course.

The one piece of info not vouchedsafe at any stage is how much we taxpayers are having to pay for this nonsense.

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