Fit note powers extended to more health professionals

THE power to sign fit notes is being extended to more health professionals in a bid to ease GP workloads, the government has announced.

Nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists will be able to certify and issue fit notes from July 1. Currently, only doctors are allowed to do so.

The move – described as the most significant change to the fit notes system since it launched in 2010 – follows the introduction in April of digital fit note certification.

It is hoped this latest change 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.” The change will be delivered in general practice and hospital settings and takes effect in England, Scotland and Wales.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith MP said: “These latest fit note changes recognise the valuable role other professions play in helping manage people’s health, and I hope this will also help reduce unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors and general practice more widely.”

The move was welcomed by the British Medical Association as “a positive step”. BMA England GP committee deputy chair Dr Kieran Sharrock said: “The BMA has been clear for many years that it may not always be necessary or appropriate for a GP to issue a fit note, especially when a patient has seen a different member of the practice team for their condition, such as a nurse or physiotherapist.”

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