So when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead. And clinging tightly to the rope I started up instead. While I shot up like a rocket, to my dismay I found, That halfway up, I met the bloody barrel coming down.
Doctors may not like it, but pharmacists issuing medical certificates for simple ailments is a win-win for everybody. Time to get out the tissues, stock up write a sick note tablets, and head down to the doctor for a medical certificate.
Actually, we're doing it more and more. Heading down to the GP for a sick note, that is. Figures from the the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published last month show that Australians see a doctor for a medical certificate twice as often as they did 10 years ago. One visit to a doctor in every 60 is for a medical certificate, up from one in a decade ago, according to the AIHW report, General practice activity in Australiapublished last month.
It's not because we're getting sicker. Employers, under ever-increasing pressure to improve workplace productivity, want to discourage absenteeism by making us prove we're as sick as we say we are.
A call-in from a hapless flatmate is no longer good enough. But it's also a direct result of the Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation, which gives employers much greater scope to demand medical certificates than they used to. Before WorkChoices, employers had to give employees up to four days of sick leave without a certificate; post WorkChoices, they have the right to demand a certificate from day one.
Much of the jump in visits to doctors for sick notes dates from the WorkChoices legislation. There wasn't much fanfare about this when WorkChoices was announced, either from the former federal government or from employer groups, who are the main beneficiaries of the changes.
They're certainly not there for employees, who've got to spend a lot more time in waiting rooms to be seen by a doctor when all they have is a sore throat or a runny nose. But there's a silver lining to every cloud. The WorkChoices legislation also quietly deregulated the writing of medical certificates.
Medical certificates can now be issued by a list of 10 'registered health practitioners', including pharmacists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.
So far the only group that has got serious about it is pharmacists. Last week the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and The Pharmacy Guild of Australia published jointly developed guidelines for pharmacists issuing medical certificates.
Now, for a small fee, anyone with a minor ailment like a cold can drop in to their pharmacist and get a medical certificate for up to two days. No appointments, no waiting. Doctors opposed Doctors aren't too happy about this deveopment. I might get my certificate for two days but in fact I've got meningococcus and I am dead within that hour-period because I haven't seen a doctor.
But there is a touch of hypocrisy about the AMA's position. When the WorkChoices changes were announced, tightening the need for medical certificates, the AMA argued that they were unnecessary, and harsh.
It was critical of employers for creating too much paperwork for doctors. Now the AMA's focus has switched to warning the unsuspecting public about the dangers of pharmacists doing what doctors have traditionally done.
And the AMA now has more sympathy with employers. Patients and doctors have nothing need to fear, says the PSA. The new guidelines are very clear about the conditions under which a pharmacist can write a medical certificate.
They can only issue one for minor ailments like coughs, colds, flu, gastrointestinal conditions, lice and other common infectious diseases. In practice the great majority will be for colds and flu during the winter season.
Pharmacists can issue a certificate for a maximum of two days. They can't issue one for a condition where the patient is being treated with a prescription drug. And anything complicated they have to refer to a doctor.
They also have to set aside a dedicated area in the pharmacy to conduct the consultation for privacy purposesspend an adequate time with the patient 10 to 15 minutesand keep records of the consultation. Pharmacists already offer advice about over-the-counter medicines which the AMA has no objection to and issuing certificates is just an extension of this, says the PSA spokesperson.
The PSA expects about 50 per cent of pharmacists will offer the service. Win-win It's hard to see any downsides to this arrangement for pharmacists, doctors or patients.
For patients, it will eliminate the need for making appointments and time spent in the waiting room. It means less chance of losing a day's pay because it wasn't possible to get in to see the doctor, and it's a big plus for people in rural areas, who have trouble getting access to a doctor.
There's less likelihood of infections being transmitted person-to-person in the doctor's waiting room. Doctors will have less time spent on paperwork and more time to see more seriously ill patients, with pharmacists referring to them those people who really do need to see the doctor.Until now, employers in Ontario had discretion to request a doctor’s note at any point when one of their employees took a sick day; a tool used by many organizations to help verify claims of illness.
A medical note from the doctor confirms the legitimacy of time missed by an employee or student. It certifies a doctor appointment with a health care provider, . An employee calling in sick is inevitable in the workplace.
The employee might be telling the truth or she could be fabricating her illness to take time off from work. To help determine whether an employee is truly sick, an employer might require a doctor’s note.
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Chemist! A sick note please! by Peter Lavelle. Doctors may not like it, but pharmacists issuing medical certificates for simple ailments is a win-win for everybody.