Doctor writing

Law changed to allow more health professional to certify fit notes

Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and nurses can now issue fit notes after the government introduced new legislation, starting from the 1st of July.

The new law will reduce pressure on doctors and GPs and streamline the patient experience rather than wasting time seeing health professionals who may not be best placed to help.

A fit note is something that a doctor usually issues to provide an employer with evidence of any advice that they have given you and to justify any absences from work.

This is the most significant change to the system since its inception in 2010 and aims to “empower better conversations about work and health between employers and staff” – subsequently making it easier for the patient to get the right advice quicker and alleviate some of the pressure on NHS staff.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Chloe Smith MP said: “The extension of fit note certification is fantastic news for patients, making it easier for them to get the support and advice they need from the right place, ensuring where possible that they are able to remain in work.

“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 diversification of the fit note certification process follows recent changes made in April, allowing for fit notes to be issued digitally, making the process more efficient and convenient for both staff and patients alike.

It delivers on the pledge to reduce ill health related job loss, set out in the government’s Health is Everyone’s Business consultation response.

Chief Executive of The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Karen Middleton said: “We welcome this change in legislation as physiotherapists are ideally placed to have conversations about health and work with patients.

“The longer someone is off work the less likely they are to return, so physiotherapy expertise at the start of an absence can be crucial for ensuring their rehabilitation is effective and they can get back in a timely manner.

“So this announcement is good news for patients, with the added benefit being that they don’t need to make a separate appointment to get signed off by a GP.”

More information about the new legislation change and its affects is available here.

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