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BMA says GPs cannot be held responsible for sick leave

Health professionals alone cannot reduce employee absence due to ill health, says the British Medical Association (BMA).

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has spoken out saying employers should do more to promote the health and well being of their staff.

But GPs do not want the pressure to be placed on them to reduce employee absence.

Dr Peter Holden, a lead negotiator for the British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee, said: "GPs are often placed in a difficult position between their patients and the system when issuing sick notes in the early stages of illness.

"Confirming that a patient is unwell is very different from making a judgement on whether someone is well enough to do their job."

The BMA have been campaigning for ten years for the incapacity benefit process to be reviewed and reformed, saying too much focus is placed on the doctor's role in carrying out a medical assessment.

"This is only part of the process in deciding when benefits should be given," says Dr Holden.

"Employers should be encouraged to provide staff with access to proper occupational health services that will get them back to work."