Background: Sick note certification plays an important role in helping individuals access financial support and to return to work. Currently, hospital doctors receive very little training in sick note certification.
Aims: To evaluate the level of training received by hospital doctors and identify training needs.
Methods: A questionnaire was designed and distributed to doctors who were training at Plymouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust in July and November 2011. After the first round audit an e-learning module was designed and locally advertised. The questionnaire was redistributed to assess the impact of the e-learning module.
Results: In the first round, 64% of junior doctors reported no sick note certification training. Only 40% felt confident in writing sick note certificates, and 54% could not identify which certificates are commonly completed in the hospital environment. Hospital doctors who had completed the e-learning module were better at identifying which certificates are appropriate to use in the hospital environment: Statement of fitness of work/Fit note (78%), Med 10 (78%) and DS1500 (67%). The e-learning module also increased the confidence of hospital doctors in writing sick note certificates, assessing fitness for work, recommending work modifications and ability to direct patients to alternative forms of information.
Conclusions: This is the first study to try and tackle the problem of poor knowledge of sick note certification among hospital doctors. The study demonstrates that an e-learning module is a simple but effective way of meeting the current training deficit.