Sicknote debate highlights shortfalls in new proposalsOn 1 Jul 2004 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. ‘Fitness for work statements – whose job is it anyway?’ was the subject of adebate on government proposals to take the responsibility for writing sicknotesaway from GPs, and pass it on to other health professionals – including OH. It was chaired by Gail Cotton, head of OH and safety services forLeicestershire Fire and Rescue, and past president of the AOHNP, and involvedthree speakers. Dr Philip Sawney, principal medical adviser at the Department for Work andPensions, explained some of the thinking behind the proposals. He said manyhealth professionals give advice to patients on their fitness for work, butonly GPs can certify them. The new set-up would create a new role for healthprofessionals to inform the decision that should be made by both staff andtheir employers. He said a joint study is currently underway on the future responsibility forsicknotes, but no-one in Government has made a decision yet. OH manager Cathy Harrison, who is currently on secondment to the NHS Plusteam at the Department of Health, said a series of pilots are taking placelooking at fitness for work. She said that OH has always advised on fitness forwork, but questioned how it would manage the role of determining sicknoteprovision. “Is it appropriate for us to become gatekeepers?” sheasked. Violet Chidombwe, an OHA for Leicester Prison Service, who also works as alocum practice nurse in a GP’s surgery, put a different slant on the debate.”Are we trying to shift the balance onto OH practitioners?” sheasked. “If so, we can only face that challenge if we’ve got the rightresources.” During the interactive debate that followed, delegates queried how such aventure would be resourced, and how it would work for employers without accessto OH. They voted overwhelmingly against moving fitness for work statements over toOH, but were in favour of involvement with the pilot schemes. www.doh.gsi.gov.uk Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.