New NHS Algorithm to Enable Self-Issued Sick Notes

The UK government is planning to introduce significant reforms to the sick note system, including the implementation of a new NHS algorithm that would enable individuals to self-issue sick notes for minor illnesses.

This move is part of broader efforts to ease the burden on doctors’ time, particularly in managing cases of long-term sickness.

Under the proposed overhaul, individuals would have the option to use an online triage service, accessible through a website or app, as the first point of contact for obtaining a sick note. By inputting their symptoms, users would receive tailored support based on the severity of their condition. While individuals with complex needs would be directed to intensive assistance, those with common infections or minor injuries may be automatically granted a sick note without the need for a doctor’s consultation.

Rishi Sunak has voiced his support for reforming the current sick note system, which he believes has failed to meet its objectives. He cited concerns about the increasing number of sick notes issued each year and the strain it places on GP resources.

The proposed changes aim to streamline the triage process, reduce administrative burdens, and ensure individuals receive appropriate support aligned with their health and employment needs. However, there are concerns about the potential misuse of the system, prompting calls for thorough testing and monitoring to address these issues.

Separately on Sunday, Sunak was criticised after confirming that he would stick with a policy which limits universal credit payments to a family’s first two children. “Working families do not see their incomes rise when they have more children. Families on benefits should be asked to make the same financial decisions as those supporting themselves solely through work,” he wrote in The Sun on Sunday.

Alison Garnham from the Child Poverty Action Group accused Sunak of having “decided that making kids poor is his political priority”.

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