Community Payback (Community Service) & Sickness Certification
COMMUNITY SERVICE AND SICKNESS CERTIFICATION
There has been a perennial problem with issuing sickness certification to those undertaking Community Payback (previously community service). This has been a particular issue with those asking for retrospective certificates. As a consequence the LMC recently held discussions with the Probation Service. The probation service takes a fairly robust but pragmatic view of sickness.
There is now an allowance for the offender to self certificate for a self limiting illness on one occasion during their service. Subsequent episodes would require medical certification. The cost of such certificates (which is outside GMS/PMS) is reimbursed by the Probation Service to the offender. A number of sickness absences would lead the Service to refer the offender back to court to assess the situation and the need to adjust sentence. The probation service is also able to critically assess the wording of the certificate in order to understand the reasons behind the certificate being issued.
The options therefore when faced with an offender requesting a certificate are:
1. Refuse to issue. The probation service would then make their assessment and either issue a warning or refer the client back to court.
2. Issue a carefully worded certificate e.g. "Mr X tells me that he had gastroenteritis 2 days ago and was unfit for work. He appears to have recovered." The probation service will more than understand the situation and will act according to other factors as per (1).
3. Issue a Med3/5 as appropriate for ongoing illness. The client may still be called back to court as not being fit to undertake the Community work.
GPs can often be put into difficult positions when offenders request medical certificates. I hope the above makes the situation clearer and gives some strategies. There is no reason why your integrity should be compromised by a manipulative or threatening offender. If you have a difficult situation then the probation service is happy to be contacted. The offender will have signed consent at the beginning of the service. http://www.ksscrc.co.uk/office-contacts