0 Items Currency:
Select Page

Getting a sick note without seeing a doctor

May 3, 2024
Getting a sick note without seeing a doctor
May 3, 2024

The topic of sick notes has once again made headlines with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announcing plans to trial stripping GPs of their power to sign people off work. 

It’s a move that forms part of his plans to tackle the UK’s ‘sick note culture’ causing record numbers of employees taking time off sick from work and, consequently, causing the UK economy millions of pounds.

While these measures sound extreme, many NHS GPs support the plan, believing it would help reduce their workload and benefit primary care, enabling doctors to spend more time focusing on patients’ health needs than seeing them in person to issue sick notes.

London-based GP Dr Kenny Livingstone, CEO & Chief Medical Officer at ZoomDoc wholeheartedly supports this trial.  ZoomDoc have revolutionised and simplified access to same day medical letters, certificates and referrals. Their unique platform is specifically designed to take pressure off the NHS – by providing online medical letters and certificates (sick notes included). 

‘Many people assume they need to see a doctor to get a sick note  – or other medical letter for that matter – but that’s not the case,’ says Dr Kenny.

Even NHS information about fit notes says although they must be ‘issued by a healthcare professional, which could be a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist, you do not always need to see them in person to get one.’

‘Although your registered GP practice offers this service it’s a non-NHS service, which means they can and often do charge for the letter you require. It also means patients need to go into practice, take up an appointment and return at a later date to collect it, which in itself is inconvenient,’ he adds.

Issuing sick notes online and privately also means freeing up millions of GP appointments.

‘Every year we’re seeing huge numbers of sick note requests via our online ZoomDoc medical letters service – the majority of which are completely legitimate. By providing these online, we’re reducing the number of calls made to GP practices and freeing up appointments for those who really need them,’ says Dr Kenny.

Here’s how getting a sick note without seeing a doctor can work for you …

When you really need a sick note


If an employee is off sick for more than 7 calendar days, they should get a fit note from a registered healthcare professional.


Before spending time and money on a sick note, make sure you really need one.

‘You only officially need a sick note if you’ve been off work sick or injured for more than seven days,’ says Dr Kenny.

This does need to include weekend days or days you don’t usually work in that number, according to NHS guidance.

Can you request a sick note online?


ZoomDoc can provide you with a same-day medical certificate that will confirm your illness and symptoms.

Getting a sick note without seeing a doctor couldn’t be easier.

Simply select the specific letter you need:

Once you’ve purchased the required letter you’ll be asked to complete a short online form. This includes uploading a 30-second to one-minute video to explain your symptoms.  

Your evidence, ID and information provided will be reviewed by our doctors who will give you a quick call with any further questions they may have. 

Although it’s easy to get one, that only applies if you really genuinely need one.

‘Our GPs are experienced professionals who follow a strict code of practice and will not issue a letter without identification being verified and sufficient evidence being provided,’ says Dr Kenny. ‘No ID or evidence, no letter,’ he says.

Read our code of practice here

Once you’ve gone through all the steps, your letter will be signed by a UK-registered doctor and sent to you the same day. If for any reason we cannot provide a letter, you will receive a refund.

As ZoomDoc Health is a private UK doctor service, the medical certificates we provide are not the same as NHS Med3 Fit Notes, which are only available from healthcare professionals delivering NHS services.

Understanding online sick notes: an example


ZoomDoc’s same-day self certification medical certificate will explain your illness, whether your condition is ongoing and dates of your self-certification.


Tom, an employee at a charity’s head office, comes down with flu-like symptoms, a fever and can’t get out of bed. Frustrated that he can’t work, Tom contacts his line manager to inform her of his illness and time off work.

Self-Certification: Tom’s symptoms persist throughout the week, causing him to miss work for a total of three days, Wednesday to Friday. On his return to work on Monday he is eligible to self-certify his sickness absence due to the length of time he’s been off (less than seven calendar days).

However, Tom begins to feel unwell again and the following morning has a painful and blocked up ear that is causing dizziness. He realises he has returned to work too soon and come down with an ear infection he’s had before that is affecting his balance. 

It is obvious Tom will require an extended period of recovery beyond the initial self-certification period.

After a couple of days rest, he feels no better and contacts ZoomDoc to schedule a same-day appointment. 

After a quick video call, our registered GP prescribes antibiotics and advises an additional week off work to recover. As Tom’s absence will exceed seven calendar days, his employer will require a sick note to provide formal documentation of his absence.

To save a trip to this GP, once better, Tom obtains the sick note via ZoomDoc outlining the duration of his recommended sick leave and any specific accommodations required for him to return to work. Once back at work he submits this to his line manager and HR department. Job done!

Need some further sick leave support? 

Our ZoomDoc GPs have a duty, as medical professionals, to help people get better as soon as they can. For more support, advice and information on how we can help you visit our Health Wire, packed with blogs covering all topics to help you get back on your feet.

Off sick right now? Give these a read:

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.