You do not require a Doctor's sickness certificate for any illness lasting seven days or less. Your employer may however require you to complete a self-certification form (SC2) which is available from your employer or on the HMRC website (www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms)
If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP (Statutory Sick Pay).
A medical certificate is now called a "Statement of Fitness for Work" (see below) from your doctor is strong evidence that you are sick and would normally be accepted, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise.
You could also provide evidence from someone who is not a medical practitioner, eg a dentist. Your employer will decide whether or not this evidence is acceptable. If your employer has nay doubts, they may still ask for a medical certificate from your GP.
Statement of Fitness for Work - "Fit Note"
The "fit note" was introduced on 6th April 2010. With your employer's support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effect of your illness or injury.
For more information see the DirectGov Website (where this information was sourced).