Public Health Acting Director Chrissie Pickin was shielded yesterday (29/07/09) by General Practice Tasmania after she wrongly said on ABC Local Radio that people with swine flu could get a
medical certificate from their doctors to cover their absence from work “a few weeks” after being ill.

By law, doctors are not able to give certificates for people they have not seen when ill.

In response, General Practice Tasmania Deputy Chair Judith Watson put out a media release, urging Tasmanian employers to be flexible about sick certificates, that general practices were hard pressed, and asking employers to accept alternative forms of verification.

In the middle of the release – and without mentioning Dr Pickin’s misinformation – Dr Watson said: ” … it is very important that people know that GPs cannot back-date sick certificates – people
must not contact their GP after their illne has passed and expect to be issued with a back-dated sick certificate. GPs are not legally able to do this.”

Dr Watson told Tasmanian Times today (July 30) that General Practice Tasmania had issued the media release to clarify the situation.

“We needed to clarify the situation and we are really pleased at how the three Tasmanian newspapers have responded,” she said.

When asked why she had not directly mentioned Dr Pickin’s error, she said: “We like to be positive. There was no benefit to Chrissie, to the public, or ourselves to do so in blatant terms. We want to be helpful to Chrissie.”