26 May 2010

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) supports the position statement of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), which encourages GPs to think carefully before giving patients medical certificates for time off work, for conditions which do not prohibit patients from working.

NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley says that the article in the New Zealand Herald this morning titled ‘Doctors urged to refuse medical certificates for time off work’ is misleading. “Absence for genuine illness will be supported by GPs, both to support the patient and their work colleagues.”

“The NZMA supports the evidence based position of the RACP, released yesterday, that early return to some form of work can assist patients and reduce long term health problems that arise from being absent from the workplace.”

The evidence demonstrates that long term absence from work for illness or injury, leads to ongoing physical and psychological problems for the individual. Dr Foley says that “the medical profession wants to do the best for our patients and avoid this.”

The NZMA is also supportive of ACC initiatives to assist GPs and employers to provide graduated return to work for injured employees.