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GP as Occupational Health Physician

GPs are increasingly being asked to act as occupation health physicians (OHP). Patients attend the surgery with a request from and employer to complete paperwork relating to the patient’s ability to per-form various duties. Similarly, other organisations request that GPs complete forms or write letters stating whether the patient is fit to perform certain activities, such as; attending a gym, doing a charity parachute jump, or work as a volunteer.

Most GPs have done little or no training in occupational health. Most of our OH experience is based up-on the exposure we have to patients requesting sick notes. The LMC would thus advise that we should not act as OHP unless we have had specific training in this field.

Furthermore, large organisations have a duty to employ their own qualified and trained OHP. If smaller or voluntary organisations wish to receive OH advice from GPs, we should receive the proper training from them and the appropriate fee for providing this service.

Many GPs may wish to provide OH advice to charitable organisations for free, and if they feel that they have the knowledge and skills to do this, this would be appropriate. However, the LMC would advise these GPs to inform their medical indemnity organisation before they give this advice.

Practices who are asked to perform blood tests or other investigations for employers or employees should only perform this if it is clinically indicated.  If there are no clinical indications the tests can be arranged on a private basis funded by the patient or the employer.

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