Employers should stop asking workers to provide a “medical clearance” or certificate stating that they do not have the COVID-19 virus, according to The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
Such requests were an ongoing source of frustration for GPs and the patients they care for, said RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon.
“Requiring employees, students or parents of children in day care to have some sort of medical clearance or certificate stating that they don't have COVID-19 is a waste of a patient's time and a GP's time,” he said.
“This has been going on for months, it is unnecessary and it needs to stop right away.
“This is another COVID-19 myth that must be busted.
“An employer, principal or day care manager is not allowed to dictate that an employee, child or student must have a certificate to return safely to a workplace, primary school, secondary school or day care facility.”
Dr Nespolon said that such demands had unintended consequences for general practice.
“Requiring people to have a ‘clearance’ or certificate chews up valuable time that could be spent treating sick patients who need our care, including vulnerable groups such as people with multiple chronic diseases.
“So please think about others and the pressures already placed on GP clinics and don’t ask anyone to provide a medical ‘clearance’ or certificate. We need to focus on those who are actually unwell.
“You should only be tested for the COVID-19 virus if you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, if you are displaying symptoms such as a cough or fever or if you are a healthcare worker. Remember too that having a negative COVID-19 test in an asymptomatic person does not mean that they don’t have the infection.
“We don’t have a limitless supply of testing kits and it’s important to apply a commonsense application of how they are used during this pandemic.”
To assist employees, parents and students who have received such a request the RACGP has produced a letter template for their usual GP to sign clearly stating that doctors are unable to routinely provide patients with such a clearance.
The letter stresses that testing resources should only be available to people who have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, patients who have symptoms such as fever or cough as well as healthcare workers.