GPs warned about fake sick notes
The MDU, a leading medical defence organisation in the UK, regularly receives requests for legal advice from GPs whose patients have forged documents. The organisation issued a warning to doctors in September 2016 to watch out for fraudulent documents.
Making fake sick notes has become easier
The MDU explains that “with editing software freely available it has become increasingly easy to make a convincing copy of a practice’s headed notepaper. There are even various sites online that offer advice on how to convincingly forge a sick note or that allow you to buy replica NHS sick notes.”
Forged prescriptions, sick notes and GP letters
The queries vary from forged prescriptions to genuine sick notes, where the dates have been altered and letters that have been created entirely from scratch. In an example case, a university student had used her mother’s GP letter to model a letter in support of her application for extended coursework deadline.
Employers should also beware of forgeries
In similar vein, employers should be vigilant of possible forged documents. If there is a suspicion that a sick note might not be genuine, the validity can be checked with the GP practice.
GPs can confirm a fake sick note
Dr Mein of MDU has said that it is fine for GPs to confirm an employer’s or university’s suspicion of fraudulent documents. “In situations where a document is entirely fake, or an original has been altered and a doctor is asked to comment on its authenticity by an external organisation, the MDU advises that it’s not a breach of confidentiality if you simply confirm that you didn’t create the document, or that any altered documents aren’t as they were when you originally signed them,” Dr Mein explained. “However, no other information should be given about whether the patient is actually registered at the practice or comments made about whether the medical information is correct.”
Read the article on MDU journal for more information about the legal standpoint of GPs.