Doctors are 'bullied' into 'handing out sicknotes like sweets' insider reveals as PM pledges to crackdown on benefits

8 January 2024, 08:36

'Sick notes are handed out like sweets': GP surgery insider tells LBC

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

GPs are 'handing out sick notes like sweets' a medical insider tells LBC.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, GP Practice manager Natalie, revealed concerns around litigation means GPs are handing out sick notes "like sweets."

The conversation comes after Rishi Sunak pledged to make it harder for people to claim out-of-work and sick benefits,

Mr Sunak said the "number of people who are signed-off has tripled. Now do I think our country is three times sicker than it was a decade ago? The answer is no."

And Natalie agreed with the Prime Minister, she said the population was "absolutely not" three times sicker than it was a decade ago.

The caller revealed many people can be signed off sick without even seeing a doctor
The caller revealed many people can be signed off sick without even seeing a doctor. Picture: Alamy

"I work as a GP practice manager and I work with an excellent team of clinicians, they are absolutely superb. But the culture in general practice is that fit notes are just handed out like sweets," Natalie told Nick.

She explained this was due to fears over litigation if sick notes are not provided.

"So if a patient requests a stick note for stress or some kind of mental health issue, it will be given to them. And that's pretty much 99% of the time," she revealed.

Natalie revealed the practice she works in has around 30,000 patients with doctors issuing around "50 sick notes a day,"

She went on to reveal she felt doctors had been "bullied" into issuing the sick notes with stark threats.

"There have been times that the clinicians have been, I would put it as, bullied into providing them."

With patients threatening "if you don't give me this sick note, for three months signing me off with stress, I'm going to take my own life."

She explained this was not just her practice but "general practice-wide."

Natalie also shockingly revealed some GP surgeries will issue a sick note as a result of an online form with the patient never having been seen by a doctor.

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