Doctors’ outrage as Government ‘snoops’ over sick notes

Reposted from the Sunday Express

FAMILY doctors have accused the Government of “state snooping” after it emerged that patients’ sickness records are to be collected and published.

Doctor writing a note and sick person

The Department for Work and Pensions will comb through GP records, including the number of sick notes issued by each practice and the number of patients recorded as “unfit” or “maybe fit” for work.

Patients’ names will not be disclosed. The DWP said the statistical information would “help provide a better understanding of why people take sickness absence in different areas across the country”.

But Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said: “I think that is state snooping. Although I am sure some civil servant thought it was a terrific idea somewhere, I am not entirely sure I agree. I don’t know if patients understand that when I write a sick note, some bureaucrat is going to be able to have a look at it.”

Dr Zoe Norris, spokeswoman for the family doctor pressure group GP Survival, said: “This could be a method for trying to find the highest concentrations of people on long-term sickness to try to catch people cheating the system. GPs should not have to be put in this position. Patient trust will be undermined if they think their doctor is reporting back on them.”

The information gathering, uncovered by doctors’ magazine Pulse, will begin next month and make it mandatory for GPs to release the data to the DWP for analysis unless a patient specifically objects.

The material, which will be published by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre from next spring, will include the length of time off, patient gender, type of health condition, their location and whether workplace adaptations were recommended.

GPs, as data controllers, will be required to tell patients in person, via notices in the surgery and on the practice website of the impending extraction.

GP and data-sharing campaigner Dr Neil Bhatia said he was “not sure why” the data was required, “other than to compare practices, create league tables, name and shame”.

He added: “‘I think it would be extremely difficult to make sense of the information out of context of the consultation.”

Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said: “Primary care in this country is a jewel in the crown. But GPs are supposed to be patient advocates.

“This will damage the doctor-patient relationship for very questionable gain.”

A DWP spokeswoman said the data was being collated to support patients in getting back to work.

She said: “We know the damage that can be done when people are absent from the workplace for extended periods of time.

“That’s why we want to ensure that people get the best possible support to return to work or to avoid falling out of work in the first place.”

She added that the statistics “will help provide a better understanding of why people take sickness absence in different areas across the country, so we can then make the service as effective as possible for businesses and employees”.

My thoughts : So, there you have it!  It’s funny isn’t it because in the case of a person claiming ESA, the DWP are quick enough to leave GP’s and NHS specialists out of the loop. Now suddenly they want the details of those signed off sick and potentially not fit for work.

A couple of things occur to me;

  1. Will the fact that certain occupations give rise to certain conditions, firefighters for example, who even though they use specialist breathing equipment will be more likely than the average citizen to suffer lung problems
  2. Similarly, in those areas of the country such as Wales and Northern England, where there was heavy industry such as steel and coal, those workers (ex – workers) are more likely to suffer ill health as a result.
  3. But what I really think is the main reason for this is that the government has it’s eye on privatisation and this information will prove crucial to private companies who will use it to cost out their tendered bids.

Now, I would never tell anyone what to do of course … but if I my doctor has to complete a sick note or fit note or shit note or whatever they are called this week, then I will be providing him/her with a written statement saying that I object to my data being collected and used in this way and that I do not give my consent for it.






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16 Responses to Doctors’ outrage as Government ‘snoops’ over sick notes

  1. Florence says:

    The one phrase that leapt out of me from the snooping, sorry shopping list of the DWP was “if workplace adaptations had been recommended”. Now, we all know that GPs AT THE MOMENT do not get involved in that. This looks to me like they want the systems in place before they roll out the “fit to work” system of GPs moving their patients into Maxiumus (non-medical) “care” after 4 weeks sick, where there may well be “workplace adaptations” recommended (in theory) where it seems they will be pushed back into work as quickly as possible seemingly regardless of the actual health of the person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s right Florence – nothing more than a tick box exercise, so that if the persons health is compromised or exacerbated (or worse still the person dies) as a result of their actions, they can turn round and say “We followed all the procedures, so it’s not our fault”

      Liked by 1 person

      • loobitzh says:

        This appears to me to be just another extension of the DWP takeover of Mental Health provision.

        With their Work and Health Program, where GPs are ‘encouraged’ to inform the DWP of anyone likely to be off sick for a period extending four weeks and pass them over to the Private Health Program for Behavioural Therapy to coerce them back to work, this could enable/allow the DWP to extend its powers covertly and disempower GPs to protect their patients.

        The way the DWP implement their Work and Health program at present is rather tentative to what I believe their ultimate agenda to be. I just thinks its a bit softly softly at the moment. Ive read the original proposals which were softened up when people raised concerns. Doesn’t mean they wont still roll out their original intentions. Which included sanctions for patients refusing to participate etc. And for GPS to consider it mandatory to hand patients over to Maximus, unless there were compelling reasons, which they must state, not to do so.

        Im convinced their mission will creep, and this move to collect data just reinforces this belief.

        Apart from anything els. What about the doctor patient relationship. Already under threat with GPs expecting to work alongside DWP Work Coaches etc.

        Patients suffering from Mental Health conditions need to be able to form an intimate and confidential professional relationship with their GPs, and it appears to me this government place no value on this relationship, rather see it as a barrier.

        Over work the GPS, strip them of their finances, and then creep in this, under the veil of helping them because they are overworked, along with the utter lie that this is designed to ultimately to help the patients, Propaganda and deceipt doesn’t come anymore despicable than this.

        Whose to say what the GOv really intend to do with the data. I for one dont trust a word that comes out of their mouthes. I Wouldnt trust them as far as I could spit. And I don’t spit.

        End of RANT at least for now!!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Couldn’t have put it better myself. I’m going to monitor this. Chris Goulden of the Joseph Rowntree foundation has already been looking into this stealthy behaviour by the DWP particularly with regard to mental health issues. I’ll see if I can find the article.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Doctors’ outrage as Government ‘snoops’ over sick notes | Benefit tales

  3. vi 9 says:

    The NAO have recently stated that between APRIL 2015 – MARCH 2018 the cost of ATOS/MAXIMUS/CAPITA will incur a total cost of 1.6 billion for carrying out 7 million assessments.
    eg £1,600,000,000,000 / 7,000,000 = £228,571 per assessment. That is an abuse of taxpayers money.
    ATOS/MAXIMUS/CAPITA all disregard NHS opinions and diagnosis. WHY?
    To save taxpayers money and reduce the stress and cost of duplicate, substandard assessments why not cancel the contracts with Atos/Maximus/Capita and just lets have the straight forward diagnosis from the NHS professionals.

    If DWP will not accept NHS diagnosis why should the taxpayer have any confidence in either the DWP or NHS. More importantly it is high time the taxpayer started to question government spending and corrupt practices.

    PS if the NHS were private you the taxpayer would be able to complain and hold them to account, but all government departments seem to be above the law.
    Something to think on.
    Jan 2016

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loobitzh says:

    Another reason they might want to do this could be linked to an article I recall reading last year (sorry cant remember details).

    If I recall correctly, the Gov had designed a training doc for GPs in filling out fit notes (sick notes).
    They were concerned that GPs didn’t get it and were filling them out incorrectly.

    The whole focus was to shift from, the illness to work capability.
    Everything the GP put down was to be informed only by evidence relating to ability to perform work duties etc.

    I would imagine GPs didnt like this much and carried on as usual. Putting as little info as possible on the sick notes.

    So I suppose, by getting hold of the sick notes, they would then be able to target GPs who were in their opinion not following the correct procedures and begin to enforce the change etc.

    That way, patients would no longer have their GPs there to offer protection etc and the DWP could snare them far more easily onto work programs etc. And what better way to destroy trust in GPs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Update on GP’s providing sick note data to DWP | The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

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