‘Farcical’: Instant medical certificates criticised for cutting corners

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Just $13.90 can get you a one-day medical certificate based on an online form, but what risks are patients taking with these instant services?


General Practice

Pop-up clinical services

Continuity of care

Period2 May 2024

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • Title‘Farcical’: Instant medical certificates criticised for cutting corners
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletNewGP
    Media typeWeb
    DescriptionJust $13.90 can get you a one-day medical certificate based on an online form, but what risks are patients taking with these instant services?...
    Chair of RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care Professor Mark Morgan told newsGP he is aware that ‘pop-up’ businesses offering patient convenience for ‘a narrow range of services’ are becoming increasingly common.

    ‘These services are often making use of loopholes in legislation,’ he said.

    ‘To make money, they need to provide lots of items of service in the shortest timeframes.

    ‘Where there is a Medicare rebate for a service, the GP generally needs to have seen the patient within the last 12 months.

    ‘This rule does not apply to other doctors or nurse practitioners, so many of the online providers make use of this rule to offer a patient a consult with a substitute provider who does not have a GP’s level of training.’

    Any clinical decision making by practitioners in these companies would likely be hampered by a litany of factors, according to Professor Morgan.

    ‘There would be a lack of comprehensive medical records, no personal knowledge of the person or their context, a limited picklist of management options to choose from, short consultations, lack of follow-up opportunities,’ he said.

    ‘Patients also miss the opportunity for preventive care that can be provided by a GP.’

    Professor Morgan said he would be keen to work with jurisdictions and industry to remove some of the demands for these kinds of certificates.

    ‘Why can we trust individuals to handle deadly machinery, drive our children around in buses, teach, maintain law and order, handle large accounts but we cannot trust people to decide they are too sick to work and take a modest amount of time off?’ he said.

    ‘Why do we instead require a certificate written with minimal clinical input in the case of a telehealth certificate providing service?’

    Professor Morgan said carving primary healthcare into a variety of limited-service providers breaks continuity of care, and that he fears the current direction drives ‘low-value piecemeal services’.

    ‘Substituting highly trained GPs with apparently cheaper and more numerous alternative providers is a false economy,’ he said.
    Producer/AuthorChelsea Heaney
    PersonsMark Morgan