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A recent study by Dr. JK Soler published in the international scientific journal Biomed central – Family practice shows that the frequency of sickness certification is similar to that reported in other European countries, even though the reporting of sickness certification system is far less complete in many other European countries than locally.

This study clearly shows that there is absolutely no rampant abuse of sickness certification by workers and doctors as implied by “sources close to the department of social policy”. Indeed it was shown that although company doctors were issuing certificates to a large number of employees, which in some cases could be around 1000, the number of certificates per patient was low, as were the total number of days of sick leave per year per employee.

MAM has also looked at the seasonal variation in sickness certification.. Scientific studies published by Maltese authors in leading international journals have shown very distinct seasonal variations in many common diseases such as asthma. Influenza and other common respiratory tract infections are amongst diseases that are well known to show seasonal variation. The pattern of sickness certificates, as expected, follows these seasonal trends of disease. The conclusion reached by “sources in the department of social policy” that these seasonal variations are related to hunting clearly has no scientific foundation. The notion that seems to be held by these sources, namely that sickness certification should be evenly distributed throughout the year, is completely erroneous.

Seriously ill patients are being greatly inconvenienced by having to get sickness certificates every week. For example, a person severely paralysed after a stroke and another one with a terminal illness now have to a call doctor every week. MAM appeals to the social policy officials to change their attitude and be sensitive to patients’ needs, and come forward with positive changes in those procedures which are causing so much unnecessary hardship.

MAM reiterates that the best way forward is constructive discussion with a view to improve the system so as to close any possible loopholes without inconveniencing genuine patients.

Dr. Martin Balzan MD MRCP(UK) FEFIM
General Secretary MAM

Original article by Dr. Soler at

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