I got TWO sick notes for ‘stress’ in under two hours without ever speaking to a doctor – all I had to do was pay £25 to fill out an online form (although one firm made me take a 30-second video explaining my illness before handing over my hall-pass!)

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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BARNEY CALMAN: After the Prime Minister announced yesterday a crackdown on sick-note culture that has seen numbers of Britons off work due to ill health balloon to 2.8million, MailOnline discovered firms selling the official documents for as little as £25, with ‘no appointments necessary’

It was disturbingly easy. 

After the Prime Minister announced yesterday a crackdown on sick-note culture that has seen numbers of Britons off work due to ill health balloon to 2.8million, MailOnline discovered firms selling the official documents for as little as £25, with ‘no appointments necessary’. 

We put their services to the test, and in under two hours I managed to purchase two sick notes, rubber-stamped by medical professionals, signing me off work for a month, barely any questions asked.

All I had to do was say, vaguely, that I was stressed and needed time off, and hand over my credit card details. 

While I have no doubt that many people use these services for perfectly legitimate reasons, our simple investigation exposes a system all to easy to abuse.

A quick Google for the term ‘buy a sick note’ throws up two adverts for London-based companies that promise to provide the relevant papers.

The first, home2lab.co.uk offers, among its numerous services, ‘Workplace Medical Sickness Certificate/Note’, same day service, a snip at just £44, or £66 if you want a ‘priority service’. 

I tap in a few personal details, such as my name, address and date of birth and list my symptoms. I type in a single word: ‘stress’.

I pay (home2labs accepts all major credit and debit cards along with Apple and Google Pay) and within moments there’s an email in my inbox requesting I upload two things to Dropbox: a short video of between 30 seconds and one minute describing my ‘symptoms’ and a photo ID. 

One of the sick notes that Barney received, signing him off until May 19

One of the sick notes that Barney received, signing him off until May 19

Another sick note given to Barney stated: 'I respectfully request that you take his health and medical symptoms into account'

Another sick note given to Barney stated: ‘I respectfully request that you take his health and medical symptoms into account’

Using my phone camera, I film myself saying something along the lines of ‘I think I am suffering from stress and I would like to request a sick note.’ And that’s it, really. 

Initially, I’d asked to be signed off for three months and get a follow-up email from the company (not from a doctor) saying: ‘As per our policy, sick notes are initially issued for a duration of two weeks, subject to doctor review and extension if deemed appropriate. 

‘Upon reviewing your provided evidence, our medical team is content to extend the sick note duration to one month. 

‘However, please note that further review will be conducted before the end of the initial sick note period to assess the necessity for any further extensions.’

I reply saying that one month would be fine. Within ten minutes I receive my sick note to download, confirming that I am too unwell to work at least until the 19th of May. 

It claims my ‘medical condition’ is ‘stress-related symptoms’. 

Under the subheading ‘treatment plan’ it states: ‘This certificate is proof of the patient’s medical condition. 

‘I believe that with appropriate treatment and time, the patient should be able to resume their duties and responsibilities. 

‘The patient has been advised to seek additional medical support as needed. Please feel free to contact me for any questions or updates regarding the patient’s condition.’

It’s signed by a GMC-registered GP. 

Home2Lab ¿ seemingly based in North London ¿ offers a workplace medical certificate for as little as £44 for a 'regular request'. Under this option, it the site claims a 'UK doctor' will sign the certificate before sending it via email, 'typically within the same day'

Home2Lab — seemingly based in North London — offers a workplace medical certificate for as little as £44 for a ‘regular request’. Under this option, it the site claims a ‘UK doctor’ will sign the certificate before sending it via email, ‘typically within the same day’

The medics are all registered with the General Medical Council, it claimed ¿ the body responsible for regulating doctors

The medics are all registered with the General Medical Council, it claimed — the body responsible for regulating doctors

MailOnline discovered one seller, Updoc UK, advertising 'sick notes for work' from as little as £24.95. The letter, 'accepted by small and large employers alike', gives 'official confirmation of your sickness ensuring you obtain sick leave'

MailOnline discovered one seller, Updoc UK, advertising ‘sick notes for work’ from as little as £24.95. The letter, ‘accepted by small and large employers alike’, gives ‘official confirmation of your sickness ensuring you obtain sick leave’

The Updoc site adds: 'Obtain your certification quickly and effortlessly with no appointments necessary'

The Updoc site adds: ‘Obtain your certification quickly and effortlessly with no appointments necessary’

In a major speech yesterday, Rishi Sunak warned that a surge in people signed off sick with mental health conditions is placing 'unsustainable' pressure on the welfare budget

In a major speech yesterday, Rishi Sunak warned that a surge in people signed off sick with mental health conditions is placing ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the welfare budget

I would be able to use this as official proof I was too unwell to work.

It’s even easier to get a sick note from the second firm advertising this kind of service. Updoc.co.uk asks me to fill out a short questionnaire with similar personal details. There’s a box where you can fill out symptoms. 

I say I’ve been stress for a month and need time off. Within about 15 minutes, and £24.95 lighter, I receive my sick note saying my medical history has been ‘assessed’ and that I’ve been ‘determined unwell and unfit for work’ until May 3rd. 

This one is signed by a pharmacist.   

A fit note, as the NHS now calls them, must be issued by a healthcare professional, but this could be a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. 

The whole process took less than two hours.  

I suppose if I was unwell, I would have appreciated the simplicity and speed of the process. 

With waiting times to see a GP spiralling, if I was truly in a mental health crisis a service like this would have been a lifeline. 

But without proper checks and balances, there will undoubtedly also be those who take advantage of such a lax system. 

Both home2labs and Updoc were approached for comment. 

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