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. 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. This change will be delivered in general practice and hospital settings.
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. The extension of fit note certification follows changes made in April 2022 that allow for fit notes to be certified and issued digitally making the process more efficient for employees, their employers and GPs.
BMA England GP committee deputy chair, Dr Kieran Sharrock said:
This announcement is a positive step and we hope that it will go some way to both improving the process for people who need confirmation that they are too unwell to work, and free-up GPs time to care for patients who need their expertise.
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.
At a time when the entire NHS is under pressure, reducing unnecessary administration and bureaucracy, while taking a more flexible and pragmatic approach to patient services is absolutely vital.
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