GPs advised not to issue sick certs for too long
GPs have been given new guidelines on issuing sick certs which urge them to "consider whether it is in the patient's interest to stay off work for a prolonged period of time".
The longer a patient is off work, the lower their chances of returning to work and early intervention in the acute stage is essential, with GPs' input being crucial, warns the guide from the Department of Social Protection.
"There is a wealth of evidence to show that generally employment is good for one's mental and physical health and well-being and, conversely, that unemployment is damaging," it said.
The guidelines, agreed by the main doctors' organisations, follow a six-month research study carried out by the Department's Medical Review and Assessment Service.
It was led by Dr Clement Leech, the chief medical officer.
"The study demonstrated that participating GPs considered the guidelines helpful in their interactions with patients and that they resulted in better outcomes for patients," said the Department.
The guidelines are evidence-based and provide defined periods of expected recovery and return to work for common illnesses and surgical procedures.