Changes to fit notes come into force

Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists can now certify fit notes as well as doctors.

(PA)
(PA)

Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists can now certify fit notes, as well as doctors.

The Government said the move will cut the pressure on NHS doctors, particularly GPs.

Fit notes provide evidence to employers about a person’s absence and any relevant advice on how to support their employees to remain in or return to work.

Disabilities minister Chloe Smith (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Updated guidance to healthcare professionals and their employers on these changes has been published, setting out how to support people to remain in work while managing a health condition.

Ministers said the change – which applies across England, Scotland and Wales and is being mirrored in Northern Ireland – will make it easier to get advice certified by the most relevant healthcare professional.

People will no longer have to be sent to a doctor to have a fit note signed when seeing and receiving treatment from an alternative professional for their health condition.

Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, said: “Having a health condition doesn’t have to take you out of a job. This change will make it easier for people and employers to get the advice they need so people can stay in work, whilst also reducing bureaucracy and freeing up doctors’ time.

“Too often we see people being faced with unnecessary challenges to get a fit note. More professionals being able to offer this vital service will speed up the process and support people to return to or remain in work.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Slashing unnecessary bureaucracy is key to ensuring more patients can see their GP quickly and get the care they need as we bust the Covid backlogs.

“That’s why we have introduced these powers to ensure certifying fit notes can be carried out by other healthcare professionals – helping to relieve pressures on GPs so they can focus on patients and deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year by 2024.”

Wendy Preston, the Royal College of Nursing’s head of nursing practice, said: “This is a positive step and is something the Royal College of Nursing was instrumental in bringing about.

Nurses have the skills and knowledge to make challenging decisions and must not feel pressured to sign a fit note, much the same as our medical colleagues

Wendy Preston, Royal College of Nursing

“Nursing staff are often the first people patients see, particularly in primary care, and especially for those living with a long-term condition who may need time off to manage their condition at times.

“This will allow them to better serve the needs of their patients and reduce the need for further unnecessary appointments with other healthcare professionals.

“Nurses have the skills and knowledge to make challenging decisions and must not feel pressured to sign a fit note, much the same as our medical colleagues.”

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