Dubai: Sick leave certificates in Dubai have to be issued electronically with effect from May 1 by a healthcare facility with the patient bearing the Dh60 cost, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced.
The authority, however, is considering reducing or waiving the fee, a senior official told Gulf News. Information on the timeline of the decision wasn’t provided by the DHA.
Facilities that do not adhere to the mandatory electronic sick leave certificate will face a penalty of Dh5,000.
The DHA has recorded violations where — non electronic / manual — sick leave certificates have been granted without rightful justification or have been granted fraudulently. The breaches were by healthcare professionals and facilities.
The electronic sick leave implementation is in line with the new executive council decree (Law No. 32) that was announced in April.
The council decree provides for new as well as heftier fines to ensure the highest quality of health care and patient protection. Among the new financial penalties, the non-issuance of an electronic sick leave by a medical facility was introduced.
Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Laila Mohammad Al Marzouqi, Head of Clinical Governance at DHA said that the cost of the mandatory electronic sick leave is under review, and could potentially be reduced or provided without a charge.
“The DHA has received several comments regarding the cost, and has taken these into consideration. The fee will be under review — either eliminated or reduced,” said Dr Laila.
She explained that the reasons for the mandatory electronic sick leave certificate are multi-fold.
“It promotes ethical practice. The requirement also prevents any fraudulent issuances or abuse or violation of sick leave. It also reduces productivity loss at a workplace,” said Dr Laila.
She explained that the earlier manual process was difficult to audit. “Through the new regulation of mandatory electronic sick leave, we can lessen the abuse and ensure that patient safety isn’t compromised. Electronic data can be audited, helping us gather information on patient data that can be shared to develop future healthcare policies,” she said.
According to the DHA, a three-day sick leave can be granted by only a general practitioner, registrar and dentist whereas a 14-day sick leave can be granted by only a specialist or consultant. Further the authority looks into areas like facilities that issue the largest proportion of sick leave certificates.
Dr Ramadan Ebrahim, Director of DHA Health Regulation, added, “A health professional cannot issue sick leave over the phone or grant leave without assessment of the medical need. Violations through manual sick leave certificates ranged from unnecessary sick leave to unauthorised length of leave. Through the new system, we can gather statistical data — cause and length of sickness — for better healthcare policy and planning.”
Dr Ebrahim also said that the electronic certificate complies with the paperless environment initiative.