Sick Sheet Up­roar

Med­i­cal and busi­ness bod­ies de­nounce con­duct of doc­tor, com­plaint be­ing lodged

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - JY­OTI PRAT­I­BHA

Two ma­jor bod­ies have con­demned as un­eth­i­cal the con­duct of a Suva pri­vate doc­tor who is­sued sick sheets with­out check-ups or re­ceipts.

Fiji Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers and the Fiji Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try have called for ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion against the doc­tor.

Fiji Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers pres­i­dent Doc­tor John Fa­ti­aki said the med­i­cal fra­ter­nity would not side with such doc­tors who were out to make a quick dol­lar and did not have the wel­fare of pa­tients at heart.

He ex­pressed shock at yes­ter­day’s Fiji Sun’s front page ar­ti­cle which re­ported that two of its staff went to the doc­tor and were pro­vided sick sheets for con­junc­tivi­tis which they clearly did not have. They paid a fee for the con­sul­ta­tion but got no re­ceipt and were not given an ex­am­i­na­tion. Dr Fa­ti­aki has taken it on him­self to lodge a com­plaint with the Fiji Med­i­cal Coun­cil.

He said there were sev­eral un­eth­i­cal prac­tices high­lighted in the Fiji

Sun re­port. He said: “For a re­cep­tion­ist to ask if a pa­tient is there for a sick sheet is ab­so­lutely im­proper and in­ap­pro­pri­ate. “The is­suance of a sick sheet is at the dis­cre­tion of the doc­tor. The girls out­side are not al­lowed to ask what’s wrong with you. Their job is to take down your de­tails. “Se­condly, I am sur­prised that the doc­tor had asked the staff for his name. He is sup­posed to have a card.

“This is part of nor­mal prac­tices to show your med­i­cal his­tory, there has to be a card, one that needs to be filled out by the re­cep­tion­ist for first time pa­tients. “The next part, the ques­tion of a di­ag­no­sis and the third part is the is­suance of a sick sheet if need be. Pa­tients come to doc­tors to see the doc­tor, not to dis­cuss with the re­cep­tion­ist whether a sick sheet is re­quired.” Dr Fa­ti­aki also ex­am­ined the

Fiji Sun staff and ruled out any signs of con­junc­tivi­tis which would war­rant a sick sheet. He told them: “Nei­ther of you have any symp­toms. Nor­mally doc­tors would ask ques­tions re­lated to the sick­ness.”

Dr Fa­ti­aki said the Col­lege took such a com­plaint very se­ri­ously and as­sured that this mat­ter would not be swept un­der the car­pet. “This will not be some­thing that will be sit­ting on the ta­ble for months. “This will be im­me­di­ately for­warded to the coun­cil for their in­ves­ti­ga­tions and this will be dealt with. “What we are deal­ing here is an is­sue of ethics. “We are pro­fes­sion­als, we have stan­dards, we have codes of be­hav­iour and ethics and it is a very trusted and re­spected pro­fes­sion and with that comes re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” he said.

He said that in such cases, doc­tors could ex­pect “the book to be thrown at them”. Dr Fa­ti­aki also praised the me­dia and es­pe­cially the Fiji Sun for high­light­ing such an is­sue.

Cham­ber’s stance

Fiji Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try pres­i­dent Peter Mazey has also ex­pressed his con­cerns about such prac­tice.

“Doc­tors is­su­ing false sick sheets, with­out ex­am­in­ing the pa­tient, are be­ing fraud­u­lent, as they are charg­ing for a ser­vice they haven’t pro­vided, as such maybe it is time for the law to in­ves­ti­gate. “Any sick­ness of em­ploy­ees is a loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity to a busi­ness and as such is passed on to all con­sumers as it is seen as “a cost of do­ing busi­ness”,” Mr Mazey said.

He also high­lighted that trust was fun­da­men­tal to a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees. “And as such where we dis­cover false sick days be­ing given it is of con­cern be­cause we lose trust in the em­ployee. “We must al­ways work un­der our con­tract of em­ploy­ment with all em­ploy­ees and this is al­ways for a spec­i­fied num­ber of sick days, a min­i­mum of 10 days per an­num. There­fore it is hard for an em­ployer to re­act if it sus­pects a false sick sheet. “In the end any em­ployee who is found to be con­stantly sick will lose out es­pe­cially when pay in­creases or re­newal of em­ploy­ment con­tracts are be­ing con­sid­ered.” Re­gard­ing sick sheet scams, Mr Mazey said: “It has been an on­go­ing prob­lem for many years and we be­lieve it is time that the Fiji Med­i­cal Board, the Min­istry of Health and the Min­istry of Labour get in­volved to stop the prac­tice.”

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