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.
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;
- 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
- 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.
- 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.