Why some doctors issue high number of sickness certificates - 19/6/2005

link to article in The TIMES

Doctors who issue numerous sickness certificates are usually the ones who carry out sick leave verification for companies or the public sector, the Medical Association of Malta's general secretary Martin Balzan said.

"The fact that there are a few doctors issuing over 2,000 certificates a year should not be interpreted to mean that they are abusing the system," he told The Times.

Answering a parliamentary question this week, Social Solidarity Minister Dolores Cristina said that last year three doctors had issued over 3,000 sickness certificates, another three had issued between 2,500 and 2,999 certificates, nine had issued between 2,000 and 2,499 certificates, 11 issued between 1,500 and 1,999, 28 issued between 1,000 and 1,499, 71 issued between 500 and 999 and 1,220 doctors issued between one and 499 certificates.

Speaking to The Times, Dr Balzan said a number of doctors who practised privately took out contracts to verify sick leave.

"These doctors automatically issue a large number of certificates. They are probably more strict than other doctors because they are employed by a private company to verify whether a person is really sick," he said.

Dr Balzan said the sick leave rate in the private sector in Malta was among the lowest among the European Union countries, while those working within the public sector took more sick leave.

"The vast number of GPs are very conscientious in issuing sick leave certificates," he said.

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