During the pandemic, the main aim was to avoid infections by not always having to go to the practice to get certificates of incapacity for work – but it was also practical. Can it stay like this?
After the experience of the Corona crisis, calls for long-term sick leave by telephone without a visit to the practice are becoming louder. The health policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Janosch Dahmen, told the German Press Agency on Friday that this was an important relief for patients and doctors, which had proven its worth. “We should not only continue the regulation, but also expand it to include other acute complaints beyond respiratory diseases.” The consumer centers and the family doctor association criticized the end of a corresponding special corona regulation and called for a permanent solution.
Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) told the dpa that he thought that sick leave by telephone made sense. However, he pointed out that the decision-making authority lies with the Federal Joint Committee of Doctors, Clinics and Health Insurance Companies. According to Lauterbach, it would be in favor of the end of the regulation being reconsidered. The chairman of the state ministers, Manne Lucha (Greens) from Baden-Württemberg, also spoke in favor of it. If you want to move towards more digitization, it is also important that people with mild infections do not fill the waiting room, but can get sick leave over the phone.
Special rules expired
The Corona special regulation related to mild cold symptoms only ran until Friday. The Federal Joint Committee had extended it several times since the end of March 2020 in order to reduce unnecessary contacts and avoid corona infections. In view of the more relaxed pandemic situation, the regulation is now expiring. From this Saturday onwards, patients will have to go back to the practice if they need certificates of incapacity for work.
Dahmen said: “Parents who already have sick children at home should be able to use the telephone sick note as standard. The regulation should also be extended to additional acute illnesses such as a gastrointestinal infection or endometriosis patients.” The traffic light coalition should therefore decide on a quick and pragmatic continuation. “Family doctors and pediatricians know their patients,” explained the health expert. You could make a decision about sick leave over the phone.
General practitioners warn: supply at risk
The special Corona regulation on sick leave by phone for mild cold symptoms only ran until Friday. The joint federal committee of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies had extended it several times since the end of March 2020 in order to reduce unnecessary contacts and avoid corona infections. In view of the more relaxed pandemic situation, the regulation is now expiring. From this Saturday, patients will have to go back to the practice if they need a certificate of incapacity for work.
Criticism came from the German General Practitioners Association. “Anyone who pulls the plug on sick leave by phone now endangers the supply and accepts that the family doctor’s practices will come under increasing pressure,” said Vice-Chairman Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth to the editorial network Germany (Friday). It is incomprehensible why a regulation that has worked extremely well in recent years should now be deleted without necessity. Telephone certificates of incapacity for work should become an integral part of care – for example for patients with mild gastrointestinal infections who do not have to be treated on site.
The Federal Association of Consumers criticized that the consequence of the temporary end of the special regulation was: “With a cough and a runny nose back into the overcrowded waiting room”. A permanent option for sick leave over the phone would be a great relief for medical practices and patients alike. The target group should be people with mild infections and chronic diseases without severe symptoms.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.