More health care professionals can now certify fit notes
Since their introduction in 2010, in England, Scotland and Wales, only GPs can legally certify fit notes for patients where they have been absent from work for 7 days or more. The fit note provides evidence to the patient’s employer that the patient is either unfit for work or fit for work, providing certain support measures are in place.
Now, in order to ease mounting pressure on GPs, and also to simplify the process for patients to obtain a fit note in general, the Department for Work & Pensions has announced that from Friday 1st July 2022, the scope of healthcare professionals who can certify and issue fit notes will be:
· Occupational Therapists
· Pharmacists, and
The usual rules apply to the certification and issuing of fit notes i.e. they can only be issued following a medical assessment of the person’s fitness for work, so they cannot be issued via telephone or over-the-counter services.
This follows legislative changes, made in April 2022, which removed the need for fit notes to be signed in ink, and instead now 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 the GP’s IT systems support this).
This move to broaden the fit note certification and issue process is likely to be welcomed by employers who can, at times, struggle to obtain fit notes from employees due to the employee being unable to get an appointment with their GP for a fit note to be issued.