A few weeks ago the topic of sick notes was debated on Good Morning Britain. It came after an article in The Times suggested it may be ‘too easy’ to get a sick note to sign you off work now that this service is available online, without needing to see your NHS GP in person.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, one GP, Dr Sonali Kinra said it could do more harm than good while GP Dr Anita Raja defended the service as taking pressure off an already struggling NHS that couldn’t function without telemedicine and private healthcare services.
ZoomDoc is one of those private services offering a wide range of medical letters to patients in need. These include sick notes for employees needing to provide proof of an illness, condition or injury to their employer – or sick notes for students needing the same proof for university or college administrators or tutors..
Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenny Livingstone says the service that ZoomDoc offers has a professional and rigorous checklist in place to stop people abusing the service.
Here’s how ZoomDoc sick notes work. Plus, how you can be sure that getting one is easy for those who really need one – and impossible for those who don’t.
When do I need a sick note?
You only officially need a sick note if you’ve been off work sick or injured for more than seven days. You should include weekend days or days you don’t usually work in that number, according to NHS guidance.
However, some employers may request one for less than seven days or if you’re off sick frequently with the same condition.
Where do I get a sick note?
You can go to your usual GP for a sick note (often called fit notes by the NHS). However, GP practices may charge for this service, particularly if you’ve been off less than seven days, or need a repeat or duplicate one.
‘Medical letters are usually a private fee-paying service that the NHS offers. And not only might you have to pay for the sick note via your GP, you’ll also need to make an appointment to request it and then return at a later date to collect it,’ says Dr Kenny.
‘That’s why ZoomDoc offers an online medical letters service where you can get a sick note or other letter or certificate the same day, no appointment needed, freeing up your time and your doctor’s,’ he says.
Is it OK to get a sick note without seeing a doctor?
‘Absolutely,’ says Dr Kenny.
The NHS even says so in its online advice about fit notes (sick notes) stating:
‘A fit note 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.’
Surely anyone can get a sick note if you don’t need to see a doctor?
‘Although we’ve made the process as simple and speedy as possible ZoomDoc follows a rigorous code of practice in order to make sure sick patients who need a sick note will get one and anyone whose request is not genuine, won’t,’ says Dr Kenny.
‘Patients can always lie to their doctor, whether that’s in person, over the phone or online but ensuring this doesn’t lead to a sick note obtained under false pretences is a priority for us,’ he says.
So how easy is it to get a sick note?
If you need a sick note for your employer, human resources department or academic setting then simply select the service you need here:
Once you’ve purchased the required letter for £40 you’ll be asked to complete a short online form. This includes uploading a 30-second to one-minute video to explain your symptoms.
Then your evidence will be reviewed by our doctors who will give you a quick call with any further questions they may have.
‘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.
Once you’ve gone through the steps, your letter will be signed by a UK-registered doctor and sent to you the same day.
What evidence will I need to get a sick note?
To allow ZoomDoc GPs to assess your condition and issue a medical certificate, you will need to provide the following information:
- A photo of your passport, driving licence or workplace ID
- Confirmation of when your sickness or condition started
- Whether your sickness is ongoing, or you are now recovered
- A 30-second to one-minute video describing your symptoms
- The name of your workplace
- Details of your regular NHS GP (if you have one)
With all of the above it couldn’t be easier to get your sick note sorted. And if you don’t have what’s required?
‘No ID or evidence, no letter,’ says Dr Kenny.
Do you ever refuse a sick note?
Yes. Without identification or evidence, you will be refused a sick note and you will be refunded.
We also won’t issue repeat sick notes without a call from one of our doctors to recommend appropriate support and check that care is being taken. We will also update your registered GP to make sure they are aware of ongoing sickness or health problems.
We will also refuse any requests to backdate a sick note beyond one month from the initial start of their symptoms.