GPs agree that sick cert system ‘is in need of an overhaul’

This article is from page 9 of the 2012-07-31 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 9 JPG

THE Chairman of the Clare Branch of the Irish College of General Practitioners has acknowledged that changes are required to the issuing of sick certificates.

Dr Fergus Glynn was speaking following comments made by Judge Patrick Durcan at Ennis District Court on Wednesday.

Judge Durcan has commented in recent weeks about the number of people in Clare who fail to show up for scheduled court appearances.

He has also remarked on the types of letters written by doctors in support of the medical reasons offered by people in explanation for their non-attendance.

On Wednesday, Judge Durcan read out the contents of a letter written by a doctor explaining why his patient could not attend court. Judge Durcan also named the doctor and the address of his practice.

Judge Durcan told the court that the letter stated, “This man has attended my surgery. He has problems with alcohol. He has been vomiting. He tells me he is not feeling well.”

Judge Durcan said, “I don’t want letters from doctors telling me what their patients think. I want letters with their (the doctor’s) opinions.”

Judge Durcan requested a copy of the letter, humorously remarking that he is collecting all doctors’ letters handed to him for inclusion in a book about the subject.

Speaking yesterday, Dr Glynn said, “The current system of sick certs is in need of an overhaul. We recognise that it is imperfect and it is open to abuse by patients.”

However, the Corofin-based doctor said GPs are often placed in “impossible positions” by patients seeking sick certificates.

He said there had been a lot of discussion recently around the issue of sick certificates.

Dr Glynn continued, “We are only acting in good faith on what the patient and client has told us. Very often, doctors are put in difficult if not impossible positions. It is an imperfect system, one that unscrupulous people will try to abuse.”

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