Berlin (German news agency) – The deputy head of the German Association of General Practitioners, Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth, calls for a permanent extension of the option to take sick leave by telephone, which expires on Friday, and warns of a massive deterioration in medical care otherwise. “To put it bluntly: it’s no longer possible without calling sick leave,” said Buhlinger-Göpfarth to the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (Friday edition).
This applies in particular to the acute waves of infection, as there were last winter. “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,” she said. The physician demanded that sick leave by telephone must be established permanently, without the previous restriction to mild respiratory diseases. “It is simply incomprehensible why a regulation that has worked extremely well in recent years should now be deleted without any need,” complained the vice-president of the association. It is important to use the scarce medical resources as efficiently as possible, otherwise there would be no time elsewhere, she warned. The association argued that general practitioners are best able to assess when it makes sense to call sick leave and when it doesn’t. Without the previous restriction to respiratory diseases, patients who, for example, suffered from a mild gastrointestinal infection and did not require medical treatment on site, could be spared the trip to the doctor’s office, said Buhlinger-Göpfarth. The Federal Association of Consumers (VZBV) also called for retention. Politicians and experts agreed that they had to learn from the corona pandemic and preserve what was tried and tested, said the association’s health expert, Thomas Moormann, to the RND. “Unfortunately, this is not the case with the telephone sick note, which was practiced very successfully and which could definitely be described as an innovation,” he complained. The long-term possibility of taking sick leave over the phone would be a great relief for medical practices and patients alike. He called on the traffic light coalition to regulate the retention by law. The special regulation introduced in the corona pandemic, which was intended to reduce unnecessary contacts and avoid corona infections, expires on Friday. In the case of mild cold symptoms, it has been possible since spring 2020 to get sick leave for up to seven days over the phone. The regulation was extended several times by the competent joint federal committee of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies.