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There is an increasing tendency for educational institutions to seek GP confirmation where a student may have been absent from attending exams or classes due to ill health.  We are increasingly being asked to spend time writing letters to confirm periods of absence that we often know nothing about, or to confirm that students have been, or will be, unable to sit exams, or submit coursework, due to problems that the Institution may already be well aware of.  This is an inappropriate use of your GP's time and is a growing problem.   Parents are responsible for providing reasons for their children's absences from school, and students, as adults, are responsible for providing reasons for their absences from university or college. 

There is no obligation for GPs to provide such reports or letters as part of the National Health Service, and Department of Work and Pensions Medical Certificates cannot be issued, as these are legal documents used exclusively for employment and social security purposes. Such reports or letters therefore fall into the same category of private services that occupational health reports for employers currently occupy, and they will be charged for accordingly.

Should an educational institution insist on a Doctor's letter, they themselves should submit a written enquiry to the GP,  including the appropriate signed consent of the student that gives explicit permission for the release of information from their medical record.  The appropriate consent form can be downloaded here.

In all cases, this type of letter or report will attract a fee commensurate with the amount of GP and administrative time involved in its preparation.                           



The Surgery is a teaching practice for students studying Medicine at Edinburgh University Medical School.  This means that we have a "Student Doctors" attached to the Practice for periods of 10 weeks at a time, over 30 weeks of the year.  The students will be observing consultations between patients and various members of the Practice team during their attachments, and they will accompany the GPs on home visits etc.  There will only ever be one student at a time, and he or she will be bound by the same duty of confidentiality that applies to all other members of our Team.  Each Student Doctor will require to gain experience and confidence in dealing with patients' problems themselves, so during the course of each 10-week attachment, we will seek your permission to allow the Student to obtain the story behind your problem, and/or examine you, if you need to be seen in person. 

You will be advised whenever a student is going to to present at any of the appointments that you attend, so that you have the opportunity to ask to see your healthcare professional alone. Please do remember, however, that we are teaching the doctors of the future, and the only way for them to learn is by seeing patients like you.

ARE YOU AGED 50-74....?

If so, you will be invited through the post every 2 years to take part in bowel screening. It is a simple, easy-to-do test that can detect early signs of bowel cancer before symptoms develop. If you have not responded to an invitation in the last 2 years and would like more information or to request a new test, phone 0800 0121 833 or email


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