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Doctor’s certificate questioned after MP skips parliament
THE AMA has defended the integrity of doctor’s certificates after the federal opposition questioned controversial Labor MP Craig Thomson’s decision to skip parliament this week citing abdominal pain.
Mr Thomson, under ongoing pressure over accusations he misused a union credit card when general secretary of the Health Services Union, spent two days in Canberra Hospital last week before being discharged on Thursday.
He is now at home in his NSW central coast electorate with a medical certificate excusing him from attending parliament for all this week.
He requested a parliamentary voting proxy – known as a “pair”– but the opposition only agreed to give him a pair for today unless he gives further proof of illness.
“If the media wants to simply accept that Mr Thomson could have appendicitis last August and could have appendicitis last Tuesday and apparently again today, well that’s fine for the press gallery,” manager of opposition business in the lower house Christopher Pyne said.
“But the coalition intends to have some real evidence of his ongoing medical condition.”
The chair of the AMA’s Council of General Practice, Dr Brian Morton, said it was “galling” to question medical certificates which “need to be deliberately vague”.
“In most cases it is no one’s business but the patient’s as to why they’re unfit for work,” Dr Morton told ABC Radio.
“A medical certificate is a legal document and every doctor knows that if they write an untruth they’re likely to be taken before the medical board.”
He added that doctors “value their standing in the community and the legal nature of the medical certificate is well respected”.
“So it is a little bit galling to have it called into question.”