RCGP Chair responds to a government proposal on sick notes

Responding to the latest government proposal to encourage GPs to refer patients to life coaches instead of signing sick notes, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“We know how beneficial working can be for patients. It meets psychosocial and financial needs and can lead to better health outcomes – and GPs already play a key role in encouraging people to work where it is safe and appropriate for them to do so.

“When making a decision to issue a fit note, the health and wellbeing of an individual patient will be the GP’s principal concern, not meeting Government targets for keeping people in work. Being able to refer patients to employment advisors or coaches as part of the process has merit in principle, but we’d need to understand more about how this would work in practice. We need to be assured there will be enough services to meet patient demand, that the process won’t cause more work for GPs at a time of intense workload pressure, and that it is having benefit for patients – so some sort of pilot would be necessary before wider roll out.

“It’s vital that as any proposals on the future of fit notes are developed that GPs and other relevant healthcare professionals, as well as patient groups, are consulted.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.