New legislation to allow a wider range of healthcare professionals to certify fit notes has been introduced by the UK government to ease pressure on GPs. This legislation change applies across England, Scotland and Wales.
- Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists to certify and issue fit notes – reducing pressure on doctors, particularly GPs
- Update will enable patients to see the most relevant healthcare professional and have better conversations about work and health
- Changes follow the introduction of digital certifying of fit notes in April, simplifying the process of issuing and receiving fit notes
From 1 July 2022 nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists will all be able to legally certify fit notes – something that at present only doctors can do. If you’ve been off work with illness for more than seven days, a fit note provides evidence to your employer about your absence and any relevant advice on how to support you to remain in or return to work.
The change, the most significant since the fit note’s inception in 2010, will support and empower better conversations about work and health between employers and staff by making it easier to get this advice certified by the most relevant healthcare professional.
It will also help reduce pressure on doctors, particularly GPs, while simplifying the process of issuing and receiving a fit note – cutting bureaucracy for employers and the National Health Service.
Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care Maria Caulfield MP said:
“Improving access to GP services and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy is vitally important as we tackle the Covid backlog. Extending powers to provide fit notes to other healthcare professions will relieve further pressures on GPs, and is another step towards helping to deliver an extra 50 million appointments in general practice a year by 2024.
This is just another way in which we’re supporting GPs in primary care, and we remain on track to deliver 26,000 more primary care staff by 2024 to help improve patient access to appointments.”
- Regulations were laid on 10 June 2022 to allow more healthcare professionals to certify fit notes. These professions are nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists. The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2022.
- Fit notes can only be issued following an assessment of a person’s fitness for work, so cannot be issued on request or via over-the-counter services.
- This change follows legislation changes in April 2022, which removed the need for fit notes to be signed in ink. This change makes it possible for eligible healthcare professionals to certify fit notes digitally, and also for patients to receive their fit note via digital channels (where GP IT systems support this).